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Full text of "Martin Luther on the bondage of the will : to the venerable mister Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1525"

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[Entered at Stationers Hall.] 

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CW 1 


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London : Printed by A. Applcgatli, 















E. T. V. 


I DEEM it expedient to put the reader in possession of 
the circumstances under which this work was written ; 
for which purpose it is necessary that I premise a rapid 
sketch of Luther s history, in its connection with Pro 

Martin Luther was born in the year 1483, at Isleben, 
in Saxony. His father, who had wrought in the mines of 
Mansfield, became afterwards a proprietor in them ; which 
enabled him to educate his son, not only with a pious 
father s care, but with a rich father s liberality. After 
furnishing him with the elements in some inferior schools, 
he sent him at an early age to the University of Erfurth : 
where he made considerable proficiency in classical learn 
ing, eloquence and philosophy, and commenced Master of 
Arts at the age of twenty. His parents had destined him 
for the bar ; but after devoting himself diligently to the 
study of the civil law for some time, he forsook it ab 
ruptly, and shut himself up in a convent at Erfurth. 

Here he became remarkable for his diligence, self-morti 
fication and conscientiousness ; occasionally suffering great 
agitation of mind from an ignorant fear of God. Habitu 
ally sad, and at intervals overwhelmed with paroxysms of 
mental agony, he consulted his vicar-general Staupitius ; 
who comforted him by suggesting, that he did not know 
how useful and necessary this trial might be to him : * God 
does not thus exercise you for nothing, said he ; you will 
one day see that he will employ you as his servant for 



great purposes. f The event, adds the historian, gave 
ample honour to the sagacity of Staupitius, and it is very 
evident that a deep and solid conviction of sin, leading 
the mind to the search of Scripture-truth, and the investi 
gation of the way of peace, was the main spring of 
Luther s whole after conduct ; and indeed this view of our 
reformer s state of mind furnishes the only key to the dis 
covery of the real motives, by which he was influenced in 
his public transactions. 

It was not till the second year of his residence in the 
monastery, that he accidentally met with a Latin Bible in 
the library, when he, for the first time, discovered that 
large portions of the Scriptures were withheld from the 
people. Being sick this same year, he was greatly com 
forted by an elder brother of the convent, who directed his 
attention to that precious article of our creed, ( I believe 
in the remission of sins. Staupitius, he afterwards 
remarked, had spoken to him as with the voice of an angel, 
when he taught him that c true repentance begins with the 
love of righteousness and of God ; but the old monk led 
him up to the source of this love. There may be, there is, 
a breathing after righteousness, and a feeling after God, 
which prepareth the way for this love ; but there can be 
no real righteousness wrought, or real love of it and of God 
felt, till we have the consciousness of his forgiveness. 
His aged adviser represented to him, that this article im 
plied not merely a GENERAL BELIEF for the devils, he 
remarked, had a faith of that sort but that it was the 
command of God, that each particular person should apply 
this doctrine of the remission of sins to his own particular 
case ; and referred him for the proof of what he said to 
Bernard, Augustine and St. Paul. With incredible ardour 
he now gave himself up to the study of the Scriptures, 
and of Augustine s works. Afterwards he read other 
divines, but he stuck close to Augustine ; and held by 
him, as we find, to his last hour. 


In the year 1507, he received holy orders ; and in the 
next year was called to the Professorship of Divinity at 
Wittemberg, through the recommendation of his friend 
Staupitius ; who thereby gave him an opportunity of veri 
fying his own forebodings concerning him. Here arose 
his connection with the elector Frederic, of Saxony ; 
which was so serviceable to him in all his after- conflicts. 
Frederic was tenderly anxious for the credit and success 
of his infant seminary; and Luther more than fulfilled 
his expectations, both as a teacher of philosophy and as a 
public minister. Eloquent by nature, and powerful in 
moving the affections, acquainted also in a very uncom 
mon manner with the elegancies and energy of his native 
tongue, he soon became the wonder of his age/ 

In 1510, he was dispatched to Rome on some import 
ant business of his order ; which he performed so well as to 
receive the distinction of a doctor s degree upon his return. 
Whilst at Rome he had opportunities of noticing the 
spirit with which religious worship was conducted there 
its pomp, hurriedness and politically ; and was thankful 
to return once more to his convent, where he might pray 
deliberately and fervently without being ridiculed. He 
now entered upon a public exposition of the Psalms and 
Epistle to the Romans ; studied Greek and Hebrew with 
great diligence; improved his taste, and enlarged his 
erudition, by availing himself of the philological labours 
of Erasmus (to which he always owned that he had been 
greatly indebted) ; rejected the corruptive yoke of Aris 
totle and the Schoolmen, and rested not, like the satirist 
who had given him a taste for pulling down, in confusion, 
but sought and found his peace in erecting a scriptural 
theology upon the ruins of heathenized Christianity. The 
true light beamed very gradually upon his mind : from sus 
pecting error he became convinced that it was there ; con 
strained to reject error, he was forced step by step into truth. 

Whilst thus employed, with great contention of mind, 


in studying, ruminating, teaching and preaching; when 
now he had been favoured with some peculiar advan 
tages* for ascertaining the real state of religion, 
both amongst clergy and laity, in his own country, his 
attention was in a manner compelled to the subject of 
Indulgences. He had not taken it up as a speculation ; 
he did not know the real nature, grounds, ingredients, or 
ramifications of the evil. As a confessor, he had to do 
with acknowledgments of sin ; as a priest, he was to dic 
tate penances. The penitents refused to comply, because 
they had dispensations in their pockets. What a chef- 
d oeuvre of Satan s was here ! It is not <( Sin no more, 
least a worse thing happen unto thee ;" but f Sin as thou 
listest, if thou canst pay for it. Luther would not ab 
solve. The brass-browed Tetzel stormed, and ordered 
his pile of wood to be lighted that he might strike terror 
into all who should dare to think of being heretics. At 
present Luther only said with great mildness from the 
pulpit, ( that the people might be better employed than in 
running from place to place to procure INDULGENCES /f 

In his office of subaltern vicar he had about forty monasteries 
under his inspection, which he had taken occasion to visit. 

f It is not to be inferred that Luther was at this time ignorant of 
the doctrine of grace, because ignorant of this particular subject. This 
is the memorable year 1517. In the preceding year, 1516, he thus 
wrote to a friend. I desire to know what your soul is doing ; whe 
ther wearied at length of its own righteousness, it learns to refresh 
itself and to rest in the righteousness of Christ. The temptation of 
presumption in our age is strong in many, and specially in those who 
labour to be just and good with all their might, and at the same time 
are ignorant of the righteousness of God, which in Christ is conferred 
upon all with a rich exuberance of gratuitous liberality. They seek in 
themselves to work that which is good, in order that they may have 
a confidence of standing before God, adorned with virtues and merits, 
which is an impossible attempt. You, my friend, used to be of this 
same opinion, or rather of this same mistake ; so was I ; but now I 
am fighting against the error, but have not yet prevailed. A little 
before the controversy concerning Indulgences, George, Duke of 
Saxony, entreated Staupitius to send him some worthy and learned 


He was sure it was wrong ; he would try to check it ; 
would try, with canonical regularity, applying to arch 
bishop and bishop for redress : so ignorant of the prin 
cipals, sub-ordinates and sub-sub-ordinates in the traffic, 
that he called upon his own archbishop vender to stop the 
trade ! 

See how God worketh. Ambition, vanity and extrava 
gance are made the instrument of developing the abomi 
nations of the Popedonx, that God may develope himself 
by his dealings with it. The gorgeous temple, whose 
foundations had previously been laid, to the wonderment 
of man^ not to the praise and worship of God, must con 
tinue to be built ; though not one jot may be subtracted 
from Leo s pomp, sensuality and magnificence, and though 
his treasury be already exhausted. Profligate necessity 
leads him to an expedient, which, whilst it reveals his 
own spirit, and discloses the principles of the government 

preacher. The vicar-general, in compliance with his request, dis 
patched Lnther with strong recommendations to Dresden. George 
gave him an order to preach : the sum of Luther s sermon was this ; 
That no man ought to despair of the possibility of salvation ; that those 
who heard the word of God with attentive minds were true disciples of 
Christ, and were elected and predestinated to eternal life. He enlarged 
on the subject, and shewed that the whole doctrine of predestination, if 
the foundation be laid in Christ, was of singular efficacy to dispel that 
fear, by which men, trembling under the sense of their own umvorthi- 
ness, are tempted to fly from God, who ought to be our sovereign 
refuge. Evidence to the same effect may be drawn in abundance from 
his letter to Spalatinus, written in this same preceding year, containing 
remarks on Erasmus s interpretations of Scripture, compared with those 
of Jerome, Augustine, and some of the other Fathers. When obe 
dience to the commandment takes place to a certain degree, and yet 
has not Christ for its foundation, though it may produce such men as 
your Fabricius s, and your Regulus s, that is, very upright moralists, 
according to man s judgment, it has nothing of the nature of genuine 
righteousness. For men are not made truly righteous, as Aristotle 
supposes, by performing certain actions which are externally good 
for they may still be counterfeit characters but men must have righte 
ous principles in the first place, and then they will not fail to perform 
righteous actions. God first respects Abel, and then his offering. 
Milner, iv. Cent xvi. chap. ii. 


he administers, could scarcely fail to draw some at least 
into an inquiry, by what authority they were called to 
submit to such enormities. This expedient (not new 
indeed Julius had adopted it before but never yet so 
extensively and so barefacedly practised, as in this in 
stance) was no other than to make gain of godliness, by 
selling merits for money by not pardoning only, but even 
legalizing, contempt and defiance of God, through the 
distribution of certain superfluous riches of Christ and of 
his saints, of which the Pope has the key. The price 
demanded varied with the circumstances of the buyer, so 
that all ranks of men might be partakers of the benefit. In 
fact, all orders of men were laid under contribution to 
ecclesiastical profligacy, whilst the infamous Dominican 
had some colour for his boast, that he had saved more 
souls from hell by his Indulgences, than St. Peter had 
converted to Christianity by his preaching. 

Luther inquired, studied, prayed, called on his rulers; 
and at length, receiving no help but only silence or 
cautions from authorities, published his ninety-five theses, 
or doctrinal propositions, upon the subject: which were 
spread, with wonderful impression and effect, in the course 
of fifteen days, throughout all Germany. 

Tetzel answered them by one hundred and six : which 
gave occasion to sermons in reply and rejoinder ; and so 
dutiful, so simple-hearted, and so confident in truth, was 
Luther, that he sent his publications to his superiors in 
the church, his diocesan and his vicar-general ; and re 
quested the latter to transmit them to the Pope. The 
cause was now fairly before the public. New antagonists 
arose. Luther was elaborate and temperate in his an 
swers. At length the lion was roused. He had com 
mended brother Martin for his very fine genius, and re 
solved the dispute into monastic envy a rivalry between 
the Dominicans and the Augustinians : but now, within 
sixty days, he must appear to answer for himself at Rome $ 


nay, he is condemned already as an incorrigible heretic, 
without trial, in the apostolic chamber at Rome, even 
before the citation reaches him. Through the intercession 
of his powerful friend the elector, he gets a hearing at 
Augsburg; if that can be called a hearing, which gives 
the accused no alternative but admission of his crime and 
recantation. Such however was the justice and the judg 
ment which Luther met with at the hands of Cajetan. 
After going to and beyond the uttermost of what was right 
in submission saving nothing but to write down the six 
letters (REVOCO), which would have settled every thing 
though there were other weighty matters in dispute, 
besides the Indulgences he left his imperious, con 
temptuous judge with an appeal which he took care to 
have solemnly registered in due form of law, ff from the 
Pope ill-informed to the same most holy Leo X. when 
better informed/ Luther had in his several conferences 
at Augsburg, written and unwritten, stood distinctly upon 
his distinguishing ground, ( Scripture against all papal 
decrees : it is his glory on this occasion, that he main 
tained it in the very jaws of the usurper s representative ; 
an abject mendicant monk, as the cardinal haughtily 
termed him, with all due and unfeigned respect for human 
superiority, took and acted the language, which two ap 
prehended and arraigned Apostles had used before him, 
(( We ought to obey God rather than men." Cajetan got 
no honour at Rome by his negociations at Augsburg ; the 
papal counsellors complained that he had been severe 
and illiberal, when he ought to have promised riches, a 
bishopric, and a cardinal s hat. Such were their hot- 
burning coals to be heaped upon the head of inflexibility ! 
On his return to Wittemberg, at the close of 1518, 
Luther meditated to leave Germany and retire into 
France ; but the elector forbad him, and made earnest 
application to the emperor Maximilian to iziterpose, and 
get the controversy settled. Meanwhile, Luther renewed 

viii PREFACE. 

his appeal to the Pope ; which was followed, strange to 
tell, by a new bull in favour of Indulgences, confirming 
all the ancient abuses, but not even mentioning Luther s 
name. In his then state of mind, clinging as he still did 
to the Pope s authority, this document was opportune ; as 
serving to make his retreat impossible. Maximilian s 
death, which took place early in 1519, increased the elec 
tor s power of protecting Luther during the interregnum, 
and led to more lenient measures at Rome. The courte 
ous Saxon knight was sent to replace the imperious 
Dominican. Martin, said he, I took you for some soli 
tary old theologian ; whereas I find you a person in all the 
vigour of life. Then you are so much favoured with the 
popular opinion, that I could not expect, with the help of 
twenty-five thousand soldiers, to force you with me to 
Rome/ Luther was firm, though softened : he had no 
objection to writing submissively to the Pope ; as yet he 
recognised his authority, and it was a principle with him 
to shew respect to his superiors, and to obey " the powers 
that be," in lawful things, if constituted lawfully. 

In the month of July, 1519, were held the famous dis 
putations at Leipsic ; where Luther, who had been refused 
a safe conduct, if he attempted to appear in the character 
of a disputant, was at length permitted to take up Carol- 
stadt s half-defended cause, and to answer for himself in 
opposition to one of the most learned, eloquent and embit 
tered of his papal opponents. Eckius, Luther s quondam 
friend, had come to earn laurels for himself, and strength 
for the Papacy ; but He who gives the prey assigned it to 
truth, and made this the occasion of supplying Luther 
with many able coadjutors. Melancthon s approval of 
his doctrine and attachment to his person were the off 
spring of this rencounter. At Wittemberg, Melancthon 
had probably been well acquainted with Luther s lec 
tures on divinity ; but it was in the citadel of Leipsic that 
he heard the Romish tenets defended by all the arguments 


that ingenuity could devise; there his suspicions were 
strengthened respecting the evils of the existing hierarchy; 
and there his righteous spirit was roused to imitate, in the 
grand object of his future inquiries and exertions, the 
indefatigable endeavours of his zealous and adventurous 

Here it was, thai the question of papal supremacy 
first came into debate. The act of granting Indulgences 
assumed the right; but the principle was now brought 
forwards by Eckius, in malicious wilfulness, for the pur 
pose of throwing scandal upon Luther ; who as yet, how 
ever, (e saw men, but as trees, walking ;" and even main 
tained the Pope s supremacy, though on inferior grounds. 
He gave it him by a right founded on human reasons ; 


Though Eckius s thirteen propositions, and Luther s ad 
versative ones, had respect chiefly to the papal domination, 
they comprehended other topics ; and much important 
matter of a more generally interesting nature was elicited 
and agitated by the discussion. On all the subjects of 
debate, Luther shewed a mind opening itself to truth, as 
in the instance just cited ; though it may be doubted who 
ther he was yet fully enlightened into any. Even on 
Justification, and on Freewill, though he held the sub 
stance of what he taught afterwards, he did not use the 
same materials, or the same form of defence. Hear his 
own account, as given in the preface to his works. f My 
own case, says he, is a notable example of the difficulty 
with which a man emerges from erroneous notions of long 
standing. How true is the proverb, custom is a second 
nature ! How true is that saying of Augustine, habit, if 
not resisted, becomes necessity ! I, who both publicly 
and privately, had taught divinity with the greatest dili 
gence for seven years, insomuch that 1 retained in my 
memory almost every word of my lectures, was in fact at 
that time only just initiated into the knowledge and faith 


of Christ; I had only just learnt that a man must be justi 
fied and saved not by works but by the faith of Christ ; 
and lastly, in regard to pontifical authority, though I pu 
blicly maintained that the Pope was not the head of the 
church by a DIVINE RIGHT, yet I stumbled at the very next 
step, namely, that the whole papal system was a Satanic 
invention. This I did not see, but contended obstinately 
thoroughly deluded was I by the example of others, by 
the title of HOLY CHURCH, and by my own habits. Hence 
I have learnt to have more candour for bigoted Papists, 
especially if they are not much acquainted with sacred, or 
perhaps, even with profane history. When the debate 
was over, Luther calmly reviewed his own thirteen propo 
sitions, and published them, with concise explanations and 
proofs ; establishing his conclusions chiefly by an appeal 
to Scripture and to ecclesiastical history. 

These wrestling-matches of ancient times were the 
seed-bed of the reviving church : the people heard, the 
people read; and thus, according to Luther s favourite 
maxim, THE STONE which is to destroy Antichrist WAS 


In 1520, Miltitz advised a second letter to the Pope. 
Advancing, as he now was, towards meridian light, he found 
it difficult to do this with integrity ; it may be questioned, 
whether he succeeded in his attempt. Already he had 
disclosed to his friend that he had not much doubt but 
the Pope is the real Antichrist. ( The lives and conver 
sation of the Popes, their actions, their decrees, all, said 
he, agree most wonderfully to the descriptions of him in 
Holy Writ. With what consistency could he still ap 
proach him as his authorized head and desired protector, 
flatter his person, and propose terms of mutual silence? 
True, the tone of his address is much altered from that 
of his former letter ; he declares many of the abomina 
tions of his government ; he expressly refuses to recant ; 


he insists upon his great principle, ( perfect freedom in 
interpreting the word of God. He is also peculiarly wise, 
just, plain and forcible in warning him against the big 
swelling words, with which his flatterers dignified him : 
" O my people, they which call thee BLESSED cause 
thee to err." But we could be glad to see more of frank 
ness and less of compliment j the person not so subtilely 
separated from the office, the man from his court ; wishes 
and prayers for good suppressed, where he had begun to 
be persuaded that there could be only curse and destruc 
tion. The only plausible defence is, his mind was not 
yet FULLY made up as to what the Pope is : he had doubts, 
he thought himself bound to go to the uttermost in endea 
vours to conciliate, such an appeal would be a touchstone. 
In estimating the rectitude of this measure, every thing, it 
is plain, depends upon the degree of light which had then 
beamed upon his mind : but it is difficult to conceive, that, 
writing, as he had done, early in this same year to Spala - 
tinus, and writing, as he afterwards did, in the month of 
June, his treatise on the necessity of reformation, and, in 
the month of August, his Babylonish captivity, he should, 
in the intermediate space, have retained a state of mind 
which, consistently with simplicity, could dictate his, or 
indeed any letter of accommodation to Leo. 

At length, however, having abundantly proved his 
David, and convinced him of his foolishness, the Lord took 
it clean away from him, whilst He sealed up his enemies 
in theirs. Never was there a more manifest illustration of 
Jewish blindness and induration (( He hath blinded their 
eyes, and hardened their heart" than in the counsels of 
the Conclave at this period. Leo disdains to be conciliated. 
After three years delay, when Lutheranism has now 
grown to a size and a strength which no fire can burn, 
the damnatory bull is issued on the 15th of June, 1520, at 
Rome, and after a further short interval of mysterious 
silence is published in Germany. It extracted forty-one 


propositions out of his writings, declaring them all to be 
heretical, forbad the reading and commanded the burning 
of his books, excommunicated his person, and required all 
secular princes to aid in his arrest. 

Luther was now quite prepared to receive it ; prepared 
through the judgment which the Lord had now enabled 
him to form concerning the papal usurpation; and pre 
pared, through the willingness which He had given him to 
suffer martyrdom for the truth, if called to that issue. The 
trenches were now fairly opened ; the war was begun. 
His first measure was to publish two Tracts : in one of 
which he treated the bull ironically, pretending to have 
some doubts of its authenticity, but still entitling it the 
execrable bull of Antichrist, and calling upon the emperor 
and all Christian princes to come and defend the church 
against the Papists ; in the other, he gave a serious answer 
to the forty-one condemned articles, defending the autho 
rity of Scripture, and calling every body to study it, with 
out deference to the expositions of men. Having answered, 
he acted his reply to it. If the bull were valid, it \vas not 
to be answered, but obeyed : he would shew, therefore, 
that he accounted it an illegal instrument. The Pope was 
the separatist, not he ; a bull of Antichrist is a bull to be 
burnt. He therefore takes the bull, together with the papal 
decretals, and such parts of the canon law as had respect 
to the pontifical jurisdiction, and with all due solemnity 
and publicity commits them to the flames : a measure, which 
he afterwards proved to have been deliberately adopted 
not the effect of heat and rage, but of calm conviction 
by selecting thirty articles from the books he had burnt, 
publishing them with a short comment, and appealing to 
the public whether he had shewn them less respect than 
they deserved. The two last of these were, Article 29. 
f The Pope has the power to interpret Scripture, and 
to teach as he pleases j and no person is allowed to in 
terpret in a different way. Article 30. < The Pope does 

PREFACE. xiii 

not derive from the Scripture, but the Scripture derives 
from the Pope authority, power and dignity. He had more, 
he said, of like kind. Assume his cause to be just, and his 
bold proceedings were unquestionably right. His was not 
a case for half-measures. He was either a subject for 
burning, or a vindicator of the oppressed. What sort of 
vindicator ? Not by the knight-errant s sword, but by 
such acts as should declare him to be in earnest, and such 
arguments as should shew that he was not in earnest for 
nought. His publications at this period, and during the two 
preceding years, were almost without number. He knew 
that his life was in his hand ; he prized the short interval, 
as he anticipated, which was allowed him ; the cause of 
Christ, so evidently committed into his hands, was to be 
maintained, extended, and at length made triumphant, 
only by the bloodless sword of the Spirit. That sword 
therefore he would wield with all his might, without ces 
sation, faintness, or weariness. His main expectation 
was from the word of God simply and intelligibly set 
forth. He added short practical and experimental trea 
tises appeals to plain sense and Scripture but the ex 
pounded word was his stay. Hence his great labour in the 
Epistle to the Galatians ; which he first published in the 
year 1519, and, after fifteen years of additional research, 
having made it one material subject of his public lectures 
during all that period, revised, corrected, enlarged, and 
reedited in 1635. 

( I have repeatedly read and meditated on this treatise, 
says his pious, laborious and philosophical historian, and, 
after the most mature reflection, am fully convinced, that, 
as it was one of the most powerful means of reviving the 
light of Scripture in the sixteenth century, so it will, in 
all ages, be capable of doing the same, under the blessing 
of God, whenever a disposition shall appear among men to 
regard the oracles of divine truth, and whenever souls shall 
be distressed with a sense of in-dwelling sin. For I per- 


fectly despair of its being relished at all by any but serious, 
humble and contrite spirits, such being indeed the only 
persons in the world, to whom the all-important article of 
justification will appear worthy of all acceptation. The 
AUTHOR himself had ploughed deep into the human heart, 
and knew its native depravity ; he had long laboured, to 
no purpose, to gain peace of conscience by legal observ 
ances and moral works, and had been relieved from the 
most pungent anxiety, by a spiritual discovery of the 
doctrine just mentioned. He was appointed in the coun 
sels of Providence by no means exclusively of the other 
reformers, but in a manner more extraordinary and much 
superior to teach mankind, after upwards of a thousand 
years obscurity, this great evangelical tenet compared 
with which how little appear all other objects of contro 
versy ! namely, that man is not justified by the works of 
the law, but by the faith of Christ/ 

I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of inserting one 
extract from this truly spiritual work. e This doctrine, 
therefore, of faith must be taught in its purity. Namely, 
that as a believer, thou art by faith so entirely united to 
Christ that he and thou are made as it were one person. That 
thou canst not be separated from Christ 5 but always adherest 
so closely to him, as to be able to say with confidence, I am 
one with Christ ; that is, Christ s righteousness, his vic 
tory, his life, death, and resurrection, are all mine. On the 
other hand, Christ may say, I am that sinner ; the meaning 
of which is, in other words, his sins, his death, and punish 
ment, are mine, because he is united and joined to me, and I 
to him. For by faith we are so joined together as to become 
one flesh and one bone. We are members of his body, of 
his flesh, and of his bones ; so that, in strictness, there is 
more of an union between Christ and me, than exists even 
in the relation of husband and wife, where the two are con 
sidered as one flesh. This faith, therefore, is by no means 
an ineffective quality j but possesses so great excellency, 


that it utterly confounds and destroys the foolish dreams 
and imaginations of the Sophisters, who have contrived a 
number of metaphysical fictions concerning faith and 
charity, merits and qualifications. These things are of 
such moment, that I would gladly explain them more at 
large, if I could. * 

Luther had many antagonists in his warfare. As his as 
sertive manifestoes were clear, argumentative and decisive; 
so his answers to those who attacked them were prompt, 
energetic and full. He neither spurned, nor delayed, nor 
spared. His admiring historian thinks it necessary to 
apologize for his vehemence, and for his acrimony. I do 
not concur with him in the sense of that necessity. God, 
who made the man, gave him his language. His language 
was the language for his case, for his hour, for his hearers 
and readers. Such were the publications wanted ; such 
would be read ; they agitated the high, they were under 
stood by the vulgar. His own account of himself, as 
given at a later period, is worth a thousand apologies. I, 
says he, am born to be a rough controversialist ; I clear 
the ground, pull up weeds, fill up ditches, and smooth the 
roads. But to build, to plant, to sow, to water, to adorn the 
country, belongs, by the grace of God, to Melancthon/ If 
he had a spirit of rancorous enmity and cold-blooded malice 
towards his opponents, let him be condemned : but, we all 
know, severe words may be spoken without a particle of 
malignity, and a smooth tongue often disguises an 

* There is a defect in Luther s statement of the believer s union with 
Christ : he does not mark, he did not discern, its origin and founda 
tion, and its consequent exclusiveness and appropriateness to a peculiar 
people. He refers it all to his believing ; which is the manifestation, 
realization and effectuation of that relation which has subsisted, not 
in divine purpose only, but in express stipulation and arrangement, 
from everlasting, and which has been the source of that very faith, or 
rather of that energizing of the Holy Ghost, which he considers as its 
parent. But the thing itself, the nature of this union, is so beautifully 
described, that, whatever be ita defects, I could be glad to give it all 


envenomed spirit. / am much more disposed to quarrel 
with his vanity, than with his petulance. 

The obligations which Charles owed to Frederic were 
such as to secure his protection for Luther, to a certain 
extent. For his opinions he cared not, though his own 
prejudices were no doubt on the side of the old system : 
he cared only for the political bearings of the question ; 
and it Avas obvious the elector s friend must not be con 
demned without a hearing. Hence, after much negociation 
and correspondence, his appearance at Worms is agreed 
upon. His wise protector gets an express renunciation of 
the principle, Faith not to be kept with heretics, from 
Charles, several of the princes countersign his safe conduct, 
and Luther, as if to face as many devils as there were 
tiles upon the houses of the selected city, preaches his way 
up to Worms. His defence there has sometimes disap 
pointed me, and he seems afterwards to have felt that he 
had been too tame and uncxplicit himself. When he 
speaks, at a still later period, of his boldness ; questioning 
whether he should in that day (but a little before his 
death) have been so bold a fact recited triumphantly by 
many historians it is with reference to his courage in 
determining, or rather in proceeding to go up, notwith 
standing the strong dissuasives which he met with on his 
way, that he gives God glory. He who made man s 
mouth and gives him wisdom, and who hath promised for 
such very occasions, " I will give you a mouth and wisdom 
which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or 
resist," did, no doubt, order his speech in perfect wisdom, 
at that trying hour. The speech he delivered was the 
speech for the time and for the case. But the question is, 
was it the speech we should have looked for from a 
Luther ? We admit there never was such a moment, pos 
sibly, since the Apostles days. All the pomp of Caesar 
was before him. But I confess there is more of the 
elector Frederic, Spalatinus and Melancthon, than of Paul 

PREFACE. xvii 

before Felix, or of Peter and John before the council. 
Hear his own^account. ( I have great misgivings (says 
he in a letter to Spalatinus some months after), and am 
greatly troubled in conscience, because, in compliance 
with your advice, and that of some other friends, I 
restrained my spirit at Worms, and did not conduct 
myself, like an Elijah, in attacking those idols. Were I 
ever to stand before that audience again, they should 
hear very different language from me. And again; c To 
please certain friends, and that I might not appear unrea 
sonably obstinate, I did not speak out at the diet of 
Worms ; I did not withstand the tyrants with that decided 
firmness and animation which became a confessor of the 
Gospel ! Moreover I am quite weary of hearing myself 
commended for the moderation which I shewed on that 
occasion/ The dean sets it all down to humility; but I 
doubt not there was much of well-founded and conscien 
tious self-upbraiding in these acknowledgments. He 
maintained his principle, however ; a free use of the 
word; the Scripture for all, to be freely interpreted by all: 
retract he would, if convinced by Scripture, but not else. 
Upon being informed that he was required to say simply 
and clearly whether he would or would not retract his 
opinions, My answer, said Luther instantly, shall be 
direct and plain. I cannot think myself bound to believe 
either the Pope or his councils ; for it is very clear, not 
only that they have often erred, but often contradicted 
themselves. Therefore, unless 1 am convinced by Scrip 
ture or clear reasons, my belief is so confirmed by the 
scriptural passages I have produced, and my conscience so 
determined to abide by the word of God, that I neither 
can nor will retract any thing ; for it is neither safe nor 
innocent to act against a man s conscience. There is 
something particularly affecting in the words which follow: 
1 Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. May God help 
me. Amen. 


xviii PREFACE. 

Many attempts were made to persuade him in secret ; 
but the upshot was, he would stand by the word ; rather 
than give up the word of God, when the case is quite 

In the course of three hours after his last interview with 
the elector Archbishop of Treves (who, though a bigoted 
Roman Catholic, had shewn strong dispositions to serve 
him), Luther received an order to quit Worms j only 
twenty- one days being allowed for his safe conduct, and 
he not permitted to preach in his way home. A sanguinary 
edict was then smuggled through the diet : many of the 
members had left Worms before it was voted ; the cere 
mony of enacting it took place in the emperor s private 
apartments ; the decree was ante-dated, as though it had 
passed on the 8th instead of the 21st, and Aleander, the 
Pope s legate, Luther s accuser, who had been much 
gravelled by the vast consideration and respect shewn to 
Luther, received it, as a sort of sop and soporific, from the 
emperor, that he should draw up the sentence. 

( The edict, as might be expected, was penned by 

* Much was said, in the course of these discussions, about a future 
council. Luther acknowledged the authority of such a council; main 
taining only, that it must be legally convened the civil governor being 
the alone rightful summoner and that its decisions must be regulated 
by the word of God. There is more of sound than substance in the 
recognition of this appeal ; upon Luther s principles. Waving the 
difficulty of summoning such a GENERAL COUNCIL, where deputies are 
to be brought together out of all Christendom, divided as it is into inde 
pendent states, under various supreme heads ; what is the decision at 
last ? The testimony of Scripture is testimony of Scripture to my con 
science, onb so far as I am led to understand Scripture in a sense 
which is coincident with the general decision. If that decision be con 
trary to my own deliberate, conscientious and supposedly Spirit-taught 
views, as a lover of order I bow to the tribunal by submitting to its 
penalties, whether positive or negative ; but I cannot confess myself 
convinced, or adopt the judgment of the council as my own, without 
violating Luther s fundamental principle, the word my judge. (See 
Part ii. Sect. xii. note k of the following work.) Luther s last answer 
confirms the distinction which I have here been marking ; it is to 
the supposed decision of a council, that his resolution applies. 


Aleander with all possible rancour and malice. The first 
part of it states that it is the duty of the emperor to pro 
tect religion and extinguish heresies. The second part 
relates the pains that had been taken to bring back the 
heretic to repentance. And the third proceeds to the 
condemnation of MARTIN LUTHER in the strongest terms. 
The emperor says, that by the advice of the electors, 
princes, orders, and states of the empire, he had resolved 
to execute the sentence of the Pope, who was the proper 
guardian of the Catholic faith. He declares, that Luther 
must be looked on as excommunicated, and as a notorious 
heretic ; and he forbids all persons, under the penalty of 
high treason, to receive, maintain, or protect him. He 
orders, that after the twenty-one days allowed him he 
should be proceeded against in whatever place he might 
be ; or at least that he should be seized and kept prisoner 
till the pleasure of his imperial majesty was known. He 
directs the same punishment to be inflicted on all his 
adherents or favourers ; and that all their goods should be 
confiscated, unless they can prove that they have left his 
party and received absolution. He forbids all persons to 
print, sell, buy or read any of his books, and he enjoins the 
princes and magistrates to cause them to be burnt. 

This high-sounding decree was never executed. Charles 
was too busy, too much entangled with crooked and con 
flicting politics, too dependent and too needy, to take ven 
geance for the Pope, at present, in Germany. In 1522, a 
diet of the empire held at Nuremberg agreed to a con 
clusion which Luther considered as an abrogation of it. In 
1523, a second diet held at the same place, after some 
considerable difference of sentiment, concurred in a similar 
recess. The Lutherans were divided between hope and 
fear, alternately elated and depressed, during some succeed 
ing years. In 1526, when evil had been anticipated, the 
diet of Spires, after much jangling, terminated favourably. 
The wrath, however, was but deferred. In 1529, a second 



diet at Spires went nigh to establish the neglected edict of 
Worms. The violence, with which it was conducted, led 
to a Protest of the Lutheran states and princes (whence 
we have derived our name of Protestants), and was followed 
by the famous defensive league of Smalcalde. The decree 
of Augsburg, in 1530, served to confirm the necessity of 
this league. The most moderate expressions of doctrine, 
and the most guarded behaviour, had no conciliatory 
efficacy ; force was prepared, and must be repelled by 
military combination. It is not by strength, however, 
or by might human strength and human might that the 
Lord wins his battles. That formidable confederacy, 
which could bring 70,000 men into the field, under the 
banner of John the Constant, to meet a not more than 8000 
of the emperor s, soon melted away like the winter s snow. 
In 1547, the emperor carries all before him takes the two 
great Protestant leaders captive, and makes a spectacle of 
them to their subjects establishes his Interim, slays the 
Protestant witnesses and assumes to be even the MAN OF 
SIN S master, in his domination over the Lord s heritage. 
But behold ! in three years and a half, the witnesses 
<( whose dead bodies have been lying in the street of the 
great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, 
where also our Lord was crucified " even in that Germany 
which has been called the highway of Europe are seen 
standing upon their feet again. The treacherous and 
intriguing Maurice is made the instrument of bringing 
deliverance to the Protestants. The emperor becomes in 
his turn a fugitive, a panic-struck, and, within a hair s 
breadth, the captive of his captives ; when, at length, the 
unhoped-for treaty of Passan legalizes Protestantism, and 
secures to the revived witnesses a seat in the symbolical 

From the disasters, alike as from the triumphs, of these 
latter scenes Luther was removed by a rapid sickness and 
premature death, in the year 1546. Fatigue and anxiety 


had impaired the native soundness and vigour of his bodily 
frame, and he died an old man, at the age of sixty-three. 

The storm which had gathered around his head at 
Worms was repelled in its onset by a prudent stratagem of 
the elector s, which he had communicated, it is probable, 
in secret, to the emperor himself. Having seized his 
person, by a mock arrest, whilst returning to Wittem- 
berg, he took and hid him in the castle of Wartburgj 
where he fed and nourished him at his own expense for 
ten months, and would have continued to do so, if Luther 
had allowed him, to the end of his days. In this hiding- 
place which he called his Patmos, comparing himself with 
St. John as banished to that island by Domitian, he saw 
many visions of the Almighty, which enlightened his future 
ministry. He betrayed a good deal of impatience under 
this seclusion. He complained that his kind detainer 
fed him too well ; that he ate and drank too much, that he 
grew stupid and sensual. But the truth seems to have 
been, that stir and bustle and a great to do were his 
element. He did not like fowling, though he allegorized 
it, so well as reading lectures to five or six hundred young 
men, and preaching to half as many thousands. Here, 
however, the Lord nurtured his Moses, and made him 
wiser in the art of feeding his sheep ; and, if he suffered 
him to be dull and heavy, he gave him no inclination to 
be idle. The Yonker,* in his horseman s suit, wrote 
many tracts ; improved himself in the knowledge of Greek 
and Hebrew, which he studied very diligently with an eye 
to his projected translation of the Scriptures, and actually 
accomplished his German version of the New Testament, 
so as to publish it this same year. These were not the 
achievements of sloth and sensuality ! Of his original 
works at this period, his answer to Latomus vS defence of 

* During his residence in the castle of Wartburg he suffered his 
beard and hair to grow, assumed an equestrian sort of dress, and passed 
for a country gentleman, under the name of Yonker George. 


the Louvain divines was the most elaborate. A confuta 
tion, says Seckendorff, replete with so much solid learning 
and sound divinity, that it was impossible to reply to it 
without being guilty of obvious cavilling or downright 
impiety. If the author of it had never published any thing 
else in his whole life, he "would, on account of this single 
tract, deserve to be compared with the greatest divines 
which ever existed in the church. At the time of writing 
it, he was furnished with no other book but the Bible ; and 
yet he interprets the leading passages of the Prophets and 
the Apostles, and does away the deceitful glosses of sophis 
tical commentators with so much exquisite erudition and 
ability, that the genuine meaning of the inspired writers 
cannot but be clear to every pious and attentive reader. 

He dedicates it to Justus Jonas, who had recently been 
appointed to the presidency of the college of Wittemberg ; 
desiring him to accept it as a sort of congratulatory pre 
sent, expressing a strong sense of the divine indignation 
as now poured out upon the visible church, and hinting 
what he expected from the new president, in the discharge 
of his office. * It is my earnest prayer, that you, my 
brother, who, by your appointment ought to teach the 
pestilential decretals of Antichrist, may be enlightened by 
the Spirit of God to do your duty ; that is, UNTEACH every 
thing that belongs to Popery. For though we are com 
pelled to live in Babylon, we ought to shew that our affec 
tions are fixed on our own country, Jerusalem. Be strong 
and of good comfort ; and fear not Baalpeor ; but believe 
in the Lord Jesus, who is blessed for evermore. Amen. 

In this treatise, he vindicates himself from the charge of 
insincerity in having for so long a time submitted to the 
Pope, and to the received opinions ; Avhilst he declares his 
grief for having done so, his thankfulness to the Lord 
Jesus Christ for that insight into the Scriptures, which he 
deemed a hundred times preferable to the scholastic 
divinity of the times, and his now full conviction, that the 

PREFACE. xxiii 

Pope is that monster of Antichrist, foretold throughout the 
sacred writings. He expresses himself indifferent to the 
charge of wanting moderation, and as to sedition, it was 
no more than the Jews had charged Christ with ; the main 
point in debate, he maintains, is ( THE NATURE OF SIN/ 
( If in the passages which I have quoted from St. Paul, 
says he, it can be proved that the Apostle does not use the 
word SIN in its true and proper sense, my whole argument 
falls to the ground ; but if this cannot be proved, then 
Latomus s objections are without foundation. He blames 
me for maintaining that no human action can endure the 
severity of God s judgment. I reply, he ought to shudder 
in undertaking to defend the opposite sentiment. Sup 
pose, for a moment, that any man could say, he has indeed 
fulfilled the precept of God in some one good work. Then 
such a man might fairly address the Almighty to this 
effect : " Behold, O Lord, by the help of thy grace, I have 
done this good work. There is in it no sin ; no defect ; 
it needs not thy pardoning mercy : which, therefore, in 
this instance I do not ask. I desire thou wouldest judge 
this action strictly and impartially. I feel assured, that, 
as thou art just and faithful, thou canst not condemn it ; 
and therefore I glory in it before thee. Our Saviour s 
prayer teaches me to implore the forgiveness of my tres 
passes ; but in regard to this work, mercy is not necessary 
for the remission of sin, but rather justice for the reward 
of merit. * To such indecent, unchristian conclusions are 
we naturally led by the pride of the scholastic system ! 
This doctrine of the sinless perfection of human works * 
finds no support in Scripture : it rests entirely on a few 
expressions of the Fathers, who are yet by no means 
agreed among themselves, and if they were agreed, still 
their authority is only human. We are directed to prove 

* It is the works of the godly that are the subject of inquiry ; the 
charge against which Luther here defends himself is, his having main 
tained that the very best acts of the best men have the nature of sin. 

xxiv PREFACE. 

ALL THINGS and to hold fast that which is good. ALL 
doctrines then are to be proved by the sacred Scriptures. 
There is no exception here in favour of Augustine, of Jerome, 
of Origen, nor even of an antichristian Pope. Augustine, 
however, is entirely on my side of the question. . . . 
Such are my reasons for choosing to call that SIN to 
which you apply the softer terms of defect and imper 
fection. But farther, I may well interrogate all those, who 
use the language of Latomus, whether they do not resemble 
the Stoics in their abstract definition of a wise man, or 
Quintilian in his definition of a perfect orator j that is, 
whether they do not speak of an imaginary character, such 
as never was, nor ever will be. I challenge them to pro 
duce a man, who will dare to speak of his own work, and 
say it is without sin. Your way of speaking leads to most 
pernicious views of the nature of sin. You attribute to 
mere human powers that which is to be ascribed to divine 
grace alone. You make men presumptuous and secure in 
their vices. You depreciate the knowledge of the mystery 
of Christ, and, by consequence, the spirit of thankfulness 
and love to God. There is a prodigious effusion of grace 
expended in the conversion of sinners : you lose sight of 
this ; you make nature innocent, and so darken or pervert 
the Scripture, that the sense of it is almost lost in the 
Christian world. I make no apology for these instructive 
extracts. The matter of this controversy must always be 
looked on as of the last importance, if any thing is to be 
called important, in which the glory of God, the necessity 
of the grace of Jesus Christ, the exercises of real humility, 
and the comfort of afflicted consciences are eminently 

f Luther concludes his book with observing, that he is 
accused of treating Thomas Aquinas, Alexander, and 
others, in an injurious and ungrateful manner. He defends 
himself by saying, those authors had done much harm to 
his own mind j and he advises young students of divinity 


to avoid the scholastic theology and philosophy as the ruin 
of their souls. He expresses great doubts whether Thomas 
Aquinas was even a good man : he has a better opinion of 
Bonaventura. Thomas Aquinas, says he, held many here 
tical opinions, and is the grand cause of the prevalence of 
the doctrines of Aristotle, that destroyer of sound doctrine. 
What is it to me, if the Bishop of Rome has canonized him 
in his bulls ? 

Valuable, however, as this work is, it will admit of no 
comparison with the truly herculean and apostolic labour, 
in which he was interrupted by performing it. c You can 
scarcely believe, says he, with how much reluctance it is, 
that I have allowed my attention to be diverted from the 
quiet study of the Scriptures in this Patmos, by reading 
the sophistical quibbles of Latomus. And again; I really 
grudge the time spent in reading and answering this worth 
less publication particularly as I was EMPLOYED IN TRANS 
LATING the Epistles and Gospels into our own language/ 

We who sit at ease, and, when w r e have leisure or inclin 
ation to read a chapter in the Bible, have nothing to do but 
take down our Bible and open it where we please, are apt 
to forget the labour which it cost to furnish us with that Bible 
in our native language, and the perils by which we were re 
deemed into the liberty of reading it with our own eyes, and 
handling it with our own hands. We especially, who have 
fallen upon times, in which, through the manifest counsel 
and act of God, out of the supposed three hundred lan 
guages and dialects of the earth, versions of the Scriptures 
are now circulating throughout the whole of the known 
world in more than one hundred and forty, and to whom it 
is a rare thing to meet with an individual who has it even 
in his heart, much less upon his tongue, to put any limits 
to the circulation of the sacred volume, are ill prepared, by 
our own feelings and experience, to estimate the boon of a 
Bible now for the first time edited in the vernacular 
tongue. But Luther had not only to fight for the right to 

xxvl PREFACE. 

read, but to labour that they might have whereupon to 
exercise that right. Luther easily foresaw the important 
consequences which must flow from a fair translation of 
the Bible in the German language. Nothing would so 
effectually shake the pillars of ecclesiastical despotism ; 
nothing was so likely to spread the knowledge of pure 
Christian doctrine. Accordingly he rejoiced in the design of 
expediting the work, whilst his adversaries deprecated the 
execution of it, more than any heresy of which the greatest 
enemy of the church could be guilty/ Accordingly, he 
had begun, and \vas preparing himself by the more accu 
rate study of the original languages for the completion of 
his work, when drawn off by Latomus : an enterprise, 
which required the silence and seclusion of his Patmos 
for its origination and commencement, but which could 
not be satisfactorily completed, without larger resources 
than he possessed there. f I find, says he, I have under 
taken a work which is above my strength. I shall not 
touch the Old Testament till I can have the assistance of 
yourself and my other friends at Wittemberg. If it were 
possible that I could be with you, and remain undiscovered 
in a snug chamber, I would come ; and there, with your 
help, would translate the whole from the beginning, that 
at length there might be a version of the Bible fit for 
Christians to read. This would be a great work, of im 
mense consequence to the public, and worthy of all our 

This arduous task was at length accomplished : the New 
Testament, as I have already mentioned, being published 
in 1522; the Old Testament afterwards, in parts, till 
completed in 1530. ( In this work he was much assisted 
by the labour and advice of several of his friends, parti 
cularly Jonas and Melancthon. The whole performance 
itself was a monument of that astonishing industry which 
marked the character of this reformer. The effects of this 
labour were soon felt in Germany ; immense numbers now 

PREFACE. xxvii 

read in their own language the precious word of God, and 
saw with their own eyes the just foundations of the 
Lutheran doctrine. What an Ithuriel s spear did the 
Lord thus enable him to put into the hands of the mass of 
the people ! No wonder that the Papists should cry out 
and burn. What, in fact, has upheld the Popedom but 
ignorance of THE BOOK ? and what is ultimately to destroy 
it, according to Luther s intelligent and enlightened antici 
pation of that event, but the knowledge of the Book f 
f The kingdom of Antichrist, according to the Prophet 
Daniel s prediction, must be broken WITHOUT HAND ; that 
is, the Scriptures will be understood by and by, and every 
one will speak and preach against the papal tyranny from 
the word of God ; until THIS MAN OF SIN is deserted by all 
his adherents, and dies of himself. This is the true Christian 
way of destroying him ; and to promote this end, we ought 
to exert every nerve, encounter every danger, and undergo 
every loss and inconvenience. The wonder is, that, in 
our days, individuals shall I say ? numbers rather, compre 
hended in that communion, are zealous for the dissemination 
of the Scriptures in the spoken language of their country; 
whilst one of these, towering high above the rest, has been 
the favoured instrument of distributing more than three hun 
dred thousand copies of a German version of his own, 
besides many thousands of this very version of Luther s.* 

To decide on the merits of Luther s translation would 
require not only an exact knowledge of the Hebrew and 
Greek, but also of the German language ; certainly it was 
elegant and perspicuous, and beyond comparison prefer 
able to any scriptural publication which had before been 
known to the populace. It is probable that this work had 

* I need scarcely mention the name of Leander Van Ess. But is 
there no opposition to this work, amongst the Roman Catholics ? Are 
there not divisions and fiercest persecutions amongst them on this very 
ground? And where, and what, are the Bible Societies of Spain, Por 
tugal, Bavaria and the Italian States ? 

xxviii PREFACE. 

many defects ; but that it was in the main faithful and 
sound, may be fairly presumed from the solid understand 
ing, biblical learning and multifarious knowledge of the 
author and his coadjutors. A more acceptable present 
could scarcely have been conferred on men, who were 
emerging out of darkness ; and the example being followed 
soon after by reformers in other nations, the real know 
ledge of Scripture, if we take into account the effects of 
the art of printing, was facilitated to a surprising degree. 

The papistical plagiarist Emser endeavoured first to 
traduce, and afterwards to rival and supersede him : but 
his correct translation was, in fact, little more than a 
transcript of Luther s (he was himself notoriously ignorant 
of the German language), some alterations in favour of the 
Romish tenets excepted ; so that Luther was read under 
Emser s name, and the Lord gave him grace to say with 
his heart, " Notwithstanding, whether in pretence or in 
truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, 
and will rejoice." 

It was not without manifesting, from time to time, a 
considerable degree of impatience, that Luther was de 
tained even for ten months in his solitude : action was his 
element, and it was painful to him to sit still. < For the 
glory of the word of God, and for the mutual confirmation 
of myself and others, I would much rather burn on the live 
coals, than live here alone, half alive and useless. If I 
perish, it is God s will ; neither will the Gospel suffer in 
any degree. I hope you will succeed me, as Elisha did 
Elijah ! I could wish he had not written this last sentence 
to his friend Melancthon. However, after ten months, 
the state of his beloved Wittemberg concurred with his own 
self-centered likes and dislikes, to render it manifestly 
desirable for the church s welfare, and so, by just inference, 
the clear will of God, that he should hazard his life and 
safety by leaving his retreat and returning to his public sta 
tion in the then capital of infant Protestantism. Melancthon 


wanted spirits and vigour ; the elector wanted boldness and 
decision ; Carolstadt was become tumultuous ; the flock 
was in the state of sheep without a shepherd ; the enemy 
was crying, " There, There." Having already made one 
short visit by stealth, and finding that an occasional inter 
position would no longer meet the difficulty, he deter 
mined to risk all, and knowing the elector as he did, to 
act first, and then apologi/.e. Accordingly, he left Wart- 
burg, and wrote his noble letter to him from Borna, on his 
way, in which he freely opened his motives and expect 
ations, delivering Frederic from all responsibility for his 
safety, and testifying his entire and alone confidence in the 
divine protection. Having done so, he pursued his journey 
with no real or even pretended safeguard, but Him who 
is invisible. ( I write these things that your highness may 
know, I consider myself in returning to Wittemberg to be 
under a far more powerful protection than any which the 
elector of Saxony can afford me. To be plain, I do not 
wish to be protected by your highness. Tt never entered 
my mind to request your defence of my person. Nay, it 
is my decided judgment, that, on the contrary, your high 
ness will rather receive support and protection from the 
prayers of Luther and the good cause in which he is em 
barked. It is a cause which does not call for the help of 
the sword. God himself will take care of it without human 
aid. I positively declare, that if I knew your highness 
intended to defend me by force, I would not now return to 
Wittemberg. This is a case where God alone should 
direct; and men should stand still, and wait the event 
without anxiety ; and that man will be found to defend 
both himself and others the most bravely, who has the 
firmest confidence in God. Your highness has but a very 
feeble reliance on God ; and for that reason I cannot think 
of resting my defence and hopes of deliverance on you. 
If I were to put my finger on the most splendid moment 
of Luther s life, I should fix it at Borna. All the mag- 


nanimity, courage and perseverance which he displayed after 
wards, were but the acting of that Spirit which he had then 
evidently received : the fruit and effect of the Lord s most 
full and most clear manifestation of Himself, as that which 
he is, to his soul. This enabled him to cast his die in 
God. He cast it at Wartburg, he declared it at Borna. 
His return to Wittemberg was healing, confidence and 
peace to his scattered, agitated and mistrustful flock. 

Luther s valuable life was preserved to the church, for 
twenty-four years, after his return to Wittemberg. In 
these, he had first to build, which he found more difficult 
than to destroy ; then, to protect, extend, uphold and per 
petuate his infant establishment.* He had to provide 
against the rapacity of the secular arm, without making 
ecclesiastics rich ; to obtain learned instructors of the 
people, without feeding hives of drones ; to make the 
untaught teachers ; to abolish pomp without violating 
decency. Often he was at a loss what to advise ; and 
often he was obliged to adopt what was only second best 
in his own eyes. The press was the great weapon of his 
warfare, and of his culture ; his publications extended to 
a vast variety of subjects, and it may be truly said, he had 
thought and knowledge, matter and weight for all. We 
are to remember, that he was all this while like a vessel 
living in a storm; not only an excommunicated man (he 
had excommunicated in return), but an outlaw, under the 
ban of the empire ; whom any body that dared might have 
seized and delivered up to justice : is not this the man 
whom the Lord holdeth with His right hand, keepeth as 
the apple of His eye, and spreadeth a table for in the 
midst of his enemies ? 

Nor were his professed enemies his worst : the slow 
caution of the elector, the timidity of his coadjutors, the 

* It was an acknowledged principle with him, as with our reformers, 
to alter as little as possible. He was more of a Cranmer than a 

PREFACE. xxxi 

madness of the people fleshly heat assuming the name 
and garb of religious fervour lust of change every body 
must be somebody envy, debate, clamour, and his own 
native obstinacy, were more to him than the Eckiuses and 
the Aleanders, the Conclave and the Emperor ! 

The character of Luther is sufficiently obvious from this 
mere hint at his history. Magnanimous, capacious, absti 
nent, studious, disinterested, intrepid, wise, f He feared 
God, he feared none else. Early in life he had been made 
to drink deep into the knowledge of his own wickedness, 
accountableness, lostness and impotency. Melancthon tells 
of him, that, while he was deeply reflecting on the astonish 
ing instances of the divine vengeance, so great alarm would 
suddenly affect his whole frame, as almost to frighten him to 
death. I was once present, when, through intense exertion 
of mind in the course of an argument respecting some 
point of doctrine, he was so terrified as to retire to a 
neighbour s chamber, place himself on the bed, and pray 
aloud, frequently repeating these words, " He hath con 
cluded all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all." 
This sensibility of conscience prepared him for a trembling 
reception of the divine word. We have seen how the Lord 
threw it in his way. For a considerable time it spake 
only terrors to him. " THEREIN is the righteousness of 
God revealed," stirred him up to blasphemy. At length 
the Lord had pity on him, and opened his eyes, and 
shewed him that the righteousness of God there spoken of 
is not His own essential righteousness, which renders Him 
the hater and punisher of iniquity, but a substance which 
He has provided to invest sinners withal ; and thus, this 
very expression which had proved a stumbling-block to 
him became his entrance into Paradise. In process of 
time, the Lord revealed the mystery of this righteousness 
somewhat more distinctly to him. He shewed him that 
the Lord Jesus Christ was in his own person this righte 
ousness ; and that to enter into Him, and to put Him on, 

xxxii PREFACE. 

by faith, was to be righteous, before God ; that the merit 
of Christ was complete for justification ; that nothing was 
to be added, or could be added to it, by a sinner ; and that 
it was received by faith only. Thus far the Lord gave 
him clearness of sight, though not fulness ; and that 
speedily : after, and beyond this, He left him to blunder ; 
aye, and to the end of his days. Now therefore, " it 
having pleased God, who had separated him from 
his mother s womb, and called him by his grace, to 
reveal his Son in him, straightway he conferred not with 
flesh and blood ;" "he could not but speak the things 
which he had heard and seen;" " he was ready not to be 
bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of 
the Lord Jesus."* 

God gave three special endowments to this chosen wit 
ness ; which are the characteristics of his testimony : 
great knowledge of Scripture, great talent for abstruse 
and elaborate argumentation, and a singular felicity in 
addressing the common people. f In illustration of the 
first of these, his whole works may be appealed to, if his 

* If his faults be required, he had, in him, every fault under heaven. 
In him, that is, in his flesh, dwelt no good thing; that is, dwelt every 
bad thing. His WITHIN was like ours. " For from within, out of the 
heart, &c. &c." But if, as should rather he, what came out of him 
chiefly, that is evil, be inquired, his vices, as is the nature of evil, were 
his virtues run mad : he was obstinate, fierce, contemptuous, vain. 
He was not unkind, as some would represent him ; he had " bowels of 
mercies :" he was not rash ; no man more deliberately weighed his 
words and deeds: he was not implacable; witness his attempts to con 
ciliate that greatest of all bears, the Duke George, our tiger Henry, 
Carblstadt, Erasmus, and even the Pope. 

f* This does not imply that he always interpreted Scripture lightly, or 
saw all the truth ; any more than his skill in arguing implies that he 
always arrived at right conclusions, or proceeded to them by just 
steps His excellency in addressing the common people, let it lie 
observed, did not consist in his having one doctrine, or one reason, for 
them, and another for the learned ; he had one Gospel for all, and told 
it all out to all ; but he had powers of language facility of illustration 
and simplicity of expression which made him intelligible and affecting 
to the most illiterate. 


translation of the Bible be not proof enough : for the 
second; his disputations with Eckius, Latomus and Eras 
mus specially the treatise which follows : for the last, all 
his numerous tracts and sermons, particularly his address 
to the common people on the breaking out of the rustic 
war. His commentary on the Galatians furnishes speci 
mens of the three. 

Such was the man, whom the Lord raised up, called 
forth and employed, as the most prominent, active and 
efficacious of his blessed workfellows, in accomplishing 
the Reformation ! But how strange is it, that man will 
look but at half of God, and at the surface only of that half, 
when His whole self stands revealed ; and when it is the 
very aim and contrivance of his operation, to effect that 
complete display ! The Reformation was God s act an 
act, inferior only to those of Calvary and of the Red Sea, 
for manifesting his mighty hand, and his outstretched arm 
which he accomplished by doing all in all that Luther did, 
and all in all that Luther s enemies did ; by working in 
Charles as well as in the Elector ; in Leo as well as 
Luther; in Cajetan, Campeggio, Prierias, Hogostratus, 
and the whole train of yelping curs and growling mastiffs, 
which were for baiting and burning the decriers of Baby 
lon, as in Jonas, Pomeranus and Melancthon. Indeed, if 
we would estimate this transaction aright, as a displayer 
of God, we must not only inspect the evil workers, visible 
and invisible, as well as the good, but must mark the steps 
by which He prepared for his march, and the combinations 
with which He conducted it ; we must see Constantinople 
captured by the infidel, and the learned of the East shed 
abroad throughout Christendom ; we must see the barba 
rian imbibing a taste for letters, and the art of printing 
facilitating the means of acquiring them; we must see 
activity infused into many and various agents, and that 
activity excited by various and conflicting interests ; we 
must see rival princes, and vassals hitherto bowed down 


xxxiv PREFACE. 

to the earth, now beginning to ask a reason of their govern 
ors; we must see a domineering Charles, a chivalrous 
Francis, a lustful and rapacious Henry, a cannonading 
Solyman, a dissipated Leo, a calculating Adrian, a hesi 
tative Clement German freedom, Italian obsequiousness, 
Castilian independence, Flemish frivolity, Gallic loyalty, 
Genoa s fleet and Switzerland s mercenaries, Luther s 
firmness, Frederic s coldness, Melancthon s dejectedness, 
and Carolstadt s precipitancy made, stirred and blended 
by Him, as a sort of moral chaos, out of which, in the ful 
ness of his own time, He commandeth knowledge, liberty 
and peace to spring forth upon his captives in Babylon. 

Luther describes himself, we have seen, as a rough 
controversialist: controversy was his element; from his 
first start into public notice, his life was spent in it. I 
hope my reader has learned not to despise, or even to 
dread controversy. It has been, from the beginning, the 
Lord s choice weapon for the manifestation of his truth ; 
just as evil has been his own great developer. What are 
Paul s and John s Epistles but controversial writings ? 
What was the Lord s whole life and ministry but a con 
troversy with the Jews ? Luther well knew its uses, and 
had tasted its peaceable fruits : it stirs up inquiry ; it stops 
the mouth of the gainsayers; it roots and grounds the 
believers. Still, there were three out of his many, from 
which he would gladly have been spared; they were 
maintained against quondam friends. In the first of these 
he was all in the right, but not without question ; in the 
second, all in the wrong, without question ; in the third, all 
in the right, without question : without question, I mean, 
not as respects any public trial which has been held, and 
judgment given, but before the tribunal of right reason. 

f Andreas Bodenstenius Carolstadt, unheard) uncon- 
victed, banished by Martin Luther. What ! Luther 
become a persecutor ? he who should have been a martyr 
himself, make martyrs of others ? Not so ; but charged 

PREFACE. xxxv 

with doing so, and appearances against him ! Honest 
Carolstadt there is some question whether he truly 
deserves this name was a turbulent man. He had no 
hearty relish for Luther s broken WITHOUT HANDS ; 
though a learned man, and still a professor at Wittem- 
berg, he gave out that he despised learning, and, having 
placed himself at the head of a few raw and hot-brained 
recruits, raved at the papal abuses which still remained 
amongst them, and proceeded to remove them WITH 
HANDS, by breaking images and throwing down altars. 
This disorderly spirit gave the first impulse to Luther s 
return. ( The account of what had passed at Wittemberg, 
he said, had almost reduced him to a state of despair. 
Every thing he had as yet suffered was comparatively 
mere jest and boys play. He could not enough lament, 
or express his disapprobation of those tumultuous pro 
ceedings ; the Gospel was in imminent danger of being 
disgraced, from this cause. Carolstadt fled before him ; 
became a factious preacher at Orlamund ; was banished by 
the elector; restored at length through the intercession of 
Luther ; reconciled to him, but without much cordiality ; 
and at length retired into Switzerland, where he exercised 
his pastoral office in a communion more congenial with 
his own sentiments, and died in 1531. Such is the short 
of Carolstadt ; one of Luther s earliest defenders, .who 
turned to be his rival and his enemy, and with whom he 
waged a sort of fratricidal war, for some years after his 
return from Wartburg, in conferences, sermons and 
treatises : of the last of these, his f Address to the Celes 
tial Prophets and Carolstadt is the principal. Of his 
banishment it is unquestionable that Luther was not the 
author, though he thoroughly approved it ; nay, on his 
submitting himself, he took great pains to get him restored : 
he could not succeed with Frederic, he did with John. 
Still I have thought him repulsive, arbitrary, and ungene 
rously sarcastic hi his resistance to this Carolstadt; even as 


xxxvi PREFACE. 

I have thought him unwarrantably contemptuous and 
exclusive in his comments and conflicts with the Munzer- 
ites, and somewhat too confident in shifting off all influence 
of his doctrine from the rustic war. Hence my expression, 
f not without question. But, on a closer review, I find 
clear evidence that Carolstadt really was what Luther 
charged him with being whimsical, extravagant, false and 
unsettled in doctrine ; a preacher and a practiser of sedi 
tion that he had moreover united himself to Munzer and 
his associates, and had thereby obtained a niche amongst 
the Celestial Prophets. I find clear evidence that Stubner, 
Stork, Cellery, Munzer and the rest were a nest of design 
ing hypocrites ; raging and railing, and making preten 
sions to divine favour, which they neither defined, nor 
defended. His test of false prophecy and false profession, 
too, let it be remarked, is sound, efficacious and prac 
ticable ; though perhaps founded (I refer to his test of 
conversion) rather too positively and exclusively upon his 
own personal experience. Again ; I find Luther s doctrine 
so clear in marking the line of civil subordination that it 
was impossible for the peasants, or those who made them 
their stalkinghorse, to urge that Luther had taught them 
rebellion. Nor was it less than essential to sound doc 
trine, that he should disclaim, and express his abhorrence 
of their error. With the exception of that part of the con 
troversy therefore, which respected his Sacramentarian 
error, Luther had right on his side : and on that subject, 
Carolstadt, though right in his conclusion was so defective 
in his reasoning, so fickle, so versatile, and so disingenuous, 
that he defeated his own victory. 

In the second of these controversies, which, although 
broached by Carolstadt, soon fell into abler hands, and 
was at length settled by abler heads than his,* Luther 

* Zuingle and CEcolampadius, the former at Zurich, and the latter 
at Basil, were the great defenders of the faith, in this cause ; who, 
notwithstanding the authority, ponderosity, calumniousness, and inflexi- 

PREFACE. xxxvii 

was lamentably wrong ; wrong in his doctrine, and wrong 
in the spirit with which he defended it : an affecting 
monument of what God-enlightened man is; who can 
literally and strictly see no farther than God gives him 
eyes to see withal, and for whose good it is not, and 
therefore for God s glory in whom it is not, that he should 
see every thing as it really is, but should in some par 
ticulars be left to shew, to remember and to feel, " the 
rock whence he was hewn, and the hole of the pit whence 
he was digged." Is there any exception to this remark 
amongst human teachers and writers ? Can we mention 
one, on whose writings this mark has not been impressed, 
so as to make it legible that we are reading a book of 
man s, not of God s ? 

Luther held, that the real substance of the Lord s 
body and blood was in the bread and wine of the Eucha 
rist, together with that previous substance which was 
bread and wine only : a tenet, involving all the absurdity 
of popish transubstantiation, together with the additional 
one, that the same substance is at the same instant of two 
dissimilar kinds. 

bility of Luther, manifested to the uttermost in opposing them, were 
enabled to " bring forth judgment unto truth." Zuingle s great work 
is a commentary on true and false religion, published in 1525, to which 
he added an appendix on the Eucharist. OEcolampadius s principal 
performance is a treatise On the genuine meaning of our Lord s words, 
This is my "body/ published about the same time : of which Erasmus, 
in his light and profane way, said, it might deceive the very elect ; 
and, being called, as one of the public censors, to review it, declared to 
their high mightinesses, the senate of Basil, that it was, in his opinion, 
a learned, eloquent and elaborate performance he should be disposed 
to add pious, if any thing could be pious which opposes the JUDG 
MENT AND CONSENT OF THE CHURCH. Zuingle testified his sense of 
the importance of the question by remarking in his letter to Pomeranus, 
I do not think Antichrist can be completely subdued, unless this error 
of consubstantiation be rooted up. CEcolampadius traces the origin of 
the doctrine of the REAL PRESENCE to Peter Lombard; and contends 
that every one of the Fathers had held that the words This is my 
body, were not to be taken literally. 

xxxviii PREFACE. 

Now, althcugh the word of God requires us to receive 
many things as true which are beyond the testimony of 
sense, and above the deductions of right reason, it no 
where calls us to receive any thing contrary to these. In 
what page, or chapter, or verse of the Bible are we called 
to believe a palpable contradiction ? This negative ap 
plies, by the way, not only to the abstruser articles of the 
faith, the coexistence of three coequal persons in the 
one divine essence, the Godman-hood of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and the reality of divine and diabolical agency 
within the human soul, but also to those simpler verities 
which affirm what are called the moral attributes of God, 
and have been strangely marred and confounded by 
neglecting it. Luther, for instance, perplexed to recon 
cile what is commonly understood by these with his repre 
sentations of truth, has gone the length of maintaining 
that we do not know what these are in God : whereas, if 
justice, faithfulness, purity, grace, mercy, truth &c. &c. 
be not essentially the same sort of principles in God, as 
in his moral creatures, we can know nothing, we can 
believe nothing, we can feel nothing rightly concerning 
him. How these may consist with each other, and with 
his actings, is a distinct consideration : but it is a bungling, 
a false, and a pernicious expedient for solving difficulties, 
to deny first principles ; and, if our very ideas of moral 
qualities, even as respects their essential nature, be im 
pugned and taken from us, we cease to be moral beings. 

The tenet of consubstantiation, then, is contradictory 
both to sense and reason. Four of our senses testify 
against it, whilst only one can claim to bear witness in 
its favour. If the disciples heard the Lord affirm it, and 
if we hear it from their writings, our sight, our touch, our 
taste, our smell, assure us that it is bread, and nothing 
but bread, which we are pressing with our teeth.* The 

* It was this sort of argument which brought the infidel Gibhon 
back to the Protestant faith, from which he had been seduced. . . . That 

PREFACE. xxxix 

same body can only be extended in one place at the same 
instant : the Lord s body therefore, which is at the right 
hand of God, cannot be in any place where the sacrament 
is administered ; much less in the various places in which 
it is administered at the same moment ; any more than the 
bread which he held in his hand when he instituted the 
ordinance could occupy the same place as the hand itself. 
Luther talked much of ubiquity ; but what is the ubiquity 
of the Lord s body ? Are we not expressly taught that it 
is extended, and remains for a season, in one place ? " So 
then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received 
up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God ;" " Who 
is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God." 
t( Who is even at the right hand of God." <l Sit on my right 
hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." " Whom 
the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of 
all things." Besides, what precludes all dispute, He has 
in reality now no such body and blood to give. <f There is 
a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." " Flesh 
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." He did 
indeed turn his spiritual body into a natural one, by 
miracle, for some moments, at sundry times, after his 
resurrection, in order that he might give competency to 
his witnesses f< Even to them which did eat and drink with 
him after he rose from the dead" but his abiding, ordi- , 
nary subsistence, ever since, has been in a body which no^ 
teeth could manducate, no lips enclose. 

All Luther s stress was upon the words c This is my 
body : he carried that sound and just principle of his, 
( Interpret Scripture literally, not tropically, where you X 
can, to a false and even ridiculous extreme here ; in oppo- v 
sition to his own admitted exception, unless an evident 

the text of Scripture which seems to inculcate the real presence is 
attested only by a single sense, our sight while the real presence itself 
is disproved by three of our senses. See his Memoir of my Life and 
Writings/ vol. i. p. 58. 


context, and some absurdity which offendeth against one 
of the articles of our faith, in the plain meaning, constrain 
us to such interpretation. (See Part iv. Sect. iii. p. 239. 
of the following work.) Is this the only instance of such 
a form of speech ? Circumcision, elsewhere called the 
token of the Abrahamic covenant, is, in some places, called 
the covenant ; the two tables of stone are called the cove 
nant ; the lamb is called the passover ; the rock stricken 
in Horeb is called Christ. Besides, if the bread be con- 
substantiated into his body, the cap should also be con- 
substantiated into a testament ; " this cup is the new tes 
tament." And when we have eaten this flesh, and drunken 
this blood (if such act were possible) by a carnal mandu- 
cation and deglutition, what has it done for us ? As if 
flesh could nourish spirit ; or, as if Christ s flesh (Luther 
dreamed that it was so) were spirit. 

Luther diminished the impression of his general cha 
racter as a reasoner, and invalidated the authority of his 
argumentations, by an elaborate and ingenious obstinacy 
in this controversy. He gave himself the air of an orator 
who could descant upon a broomstick, and could defend 
a bad cause as vehemently as a good one, by exhausting 
the great powers of his mind in forcible appeals and 
sophistical illustrations to establish this unfounded tenet. 
Not that he knew, or thought, he was advocating false 
hood his only palliation is, he was honest ; aye, honest 
to his dying hour ; for however he might regret the heat 
of spirit and of language into which he had gone out 
against his opponents, he never made any concession with 
respect to his doctrine, but declared it amidst the concus 
sion and relentings of a severe sickness in 1526, and con 
tinued to preach and write upon it to the last. The spirit 
he had manifested, he did regret ; and well he might. He 
had maintained it like a wild bull in a net, calling 
names, and making devils of his adversaries who, to say 
the least, were as pure, as learned and as laborious, if 


not so commanding in their aspect, so exalted in their 
sufferings, and so brilliant in their successes, as he and 
the rending of the mantle which should have covered 
Switzerland as well as Germany, and made both one 
against the foe of both, was more his than theirs.* This 

* Take an instance of the toil and sweat of his argumentation ; take 
an instance, or two, of the calumnious fierceness with which he pursued 
these fraternal adversaries. 

But it is absurd to suppose the body of Christ to be in more than 
a hundred thousand places at once. This is not more absurd than the 
diffusion of the soul through every part of the body. Touch any part 
of the body with the point of a needle, and the whole man, the whole 
soul is sensible of the injury. If then the soul be equally in every part 
of the body, and you can give no reason for it, why may not Christ be 
every where, and every where equally, in the sacrament ? Tell me, if 
you can, why a grain of wheat produces so many grains of the same 
species ; or why a single eye can fix itself at once on a thousand 
objects, or a thousand eyes can be fixed at once on a single minute 
object. Take another example. What a feeble, poor, miserable, 
vanishing thing is the voice of a man ! Yet what wonders it can per 
form how it penetrates the hearts of multitudes of men 1 and yet not 
so as that each person acquires merely a portion of it, but rather as if 
every individual ear became possessed of the whole. If thj/j were not a 
matter of experience, there would not be a greater miracle in the whole 
world. If then the corporeal voice of man can effect such wonders, 
why may not the glorified body of Christ be much more powerful and 
efficacious in its operations ? Farther ; when the Gospel is preached 
through the exertion of the human voice, does not every true believer, 
by the instrumentality of the word, become actually possessed of Christ 
in his heart ? Not that Christ sits in the heart, as a man sits upon a 
chair, but rather as he sitteth at the right hand of the Father. How 
this is no man can tell ; yet the Christian knows, by experience, that 
Christ is present in his heart. Again, every individual heart pos 
sesses the whole of Christ ; and yet a thousand hearts in the aggregate 
possess no more than one Christ. The sacrament is not a greater 
miracle than this. 

The Sacramentarian pestilence makes havoc, and acquires strength 
in its progress. Pray for me, I beseech you, for I am cold and torpid. 
A most unaccountable lassitude, if not Satan himself, possesses me, 
so that I am able to do very little. Our ingratitude, or perhaps 
some other sin, is the cause of the divine displeasure : certainly our 
notorious contempt of the word of God will account for the present 
penal delusion, or even a greater. I was but too true a prophet, when I 
predicted that something of this kind would happen. If I had not known 

xlii PREFACE. 

acrimonious controversy, deplorable on many accounts, 
but not without its direct and collateral benefits, began in 

from experience, that God in his anger did suffer men to be carried 
awav with delusions, I could not have believed that so many, and so 
great men, would have been seduced by such trifling and childish rea 
sonings, to support this pestilentious, this sacrilegious heresy. ... I am 
all on fire to profess openly for once my faith in the sacrament, and to 
expose the tenets of our adversaries to derision in a few words ; for 
they will not attend to an elaborate argument. I would have published 
my sentiments long ago, if I had had leisure, and Satan had not thrown 
impediments in my way. . . . Factious spirits always act in this way. 
They first form to themselves an opinion which is purely imaginary ; 
and then torture Scripture to support that opinion. . . . He gave him 
self seriously to the work, and produced, in the month of February or 
March, a most elaborate treatise, in the German language, on the 
words Take, eat, this is my body, AGAINST THE FANATICAL SPIRITS 
or THE SACRAMENTARIANS. . . . They lay no stress on any thing except 
their Sacramentarian tenet. Devoid of every Christian grace, they 
pretend to the sanctity of martyrs, ou account of this single opinion. 
. . . They would persuade one that this was the great, the only concern 
of the Holy Ghost ; when, in reality, it is a delusion of Satan, who, 
under the pretence of love and concord, is raising dissensions and mis 
chiefs of every kind. In the celebrated conference at Marpurg, pro 
posed and accomplished by the landgrave of Hesse in 1529, for the 
purpose of mutual conciliation and peace though the Sacramentarians 
begged hard to be acknowledged as brethren, and even went so far as to 
own repeatedly, that the body of Christ was verily present in the Lord s 
Supper, though in a spiritual manner, and Zuingle himself, in pressing 
for mutual fraternity, declared with tears, that there was no man in 
the world with whom he more earnestly wished to agree, than with the 
Wittemberg divines the spirit of Luther proved perfectly untractable 
and intolerant. It seems he had come with a mind determined not to 
budge one inch upon this point. Accordingly, nothing more could be 
gained from him than that each side should shew Christian charity to 
the other as far as they could conscientiously ; and that both should 
diligently pray God to lead them into the truth. To go further, Luther 
maintained, was impossible ; and expressed astonishment that the Swiss 
divines could look upon him as a Christian brother, when they did 
not believe his doctrine to be true. In such circumstances, however, 
though there could be no such thing as fraternal union, the parties, he 
allowed, might preserve a friendly sort of peace and concord; might do 
good turns to each other, and abstain from harsh and acrimonious 
language. The vehemence, in fact, was not confined to one side, 
though the Swiss had learned more of modern manners than the 
Lutherans, and could cut deep without appearing to cany a sword ; 

PREFACE. xliii 

1524, and continued to and beyond Luther s death : the 
churches which pass under his name still retain his 

In the last of these controversies, I pronounce him all in 
the right ; right, I would be understood to mean, as respects 
his conclusion and his opponent, though he adduces some 
arguments which might have been spared, and does not 
always exhibit a full understanding and correct use of his 

Erasmus, who was Luther s predecessor in age by 
about sixteen years, had done the reformers some service ; 
chiefly by facilitating the knowledge of the ancient lan 
guages through his successful researches in literature, but 
not a little by employing his peculiar talent of ridicule 
upon some of the grosser abominations of Popery. Not 
that he had any hearty concern about these ; but he was 
a man born pour le rire he was all for his jest and 
monks and friars furnished him with a subject which he 
did not know how to reject. Like Lucian and Porphyry 
therefore, he, without seriously meaning it, prepared the 
way for a better faith, by turning much of the old into 
derision. He was indignant to be thought a sceptic ; and 
many now-a-days think him hardly used by such an in 
sinuation. But is not every one who trifles with his soul 
a sceptic ? and what is the great multitude of professing 
Christians but such a company of triflers, who, if they 
were brought to the test, would act what he said in his 
irony, God has not given every body the spirit of 
martyrdom ? 

Erasmus, however, had committed himself in some 
degree to the cause of the reformers, by speaking well of 

whereas the Lutherans growled more than they bit, in this fight. 
Still our business is with the wrong of Luther. He provoked first, he 
spoke worst ; their acrimony was no excuse for his. His was the fury 
of a great man brought to the level of, or even below his equals ; whom 
lie would fain count his inferiors, and treat as his vassals. 

xliv PREFACE. 

them, specially of Luther, and acquiescing in many of 
their dogmas. In 1520, when the bull was preparing, and 
when the bull was out, he had both written and spoken a 
very decided language in Luther s favour : God had sent 
him to reform mankind ; Luther s sentiments are true, 
but I wish to see more mildness in his manner; The 
cause of Luther is invidious, because he at once attacks 
the bellies of the monks, and the diadem of the Pope. 
1 Luther possesses great natural talents ; he has a genius 
particularly adapted to the explanation of difficult points 
of literature, and for rekindling the sparks of genuine 
evangelical doctrine, which have been almost extinguished 
by the trifling subtilties of the schools. Men of the very 
best character, of the soundest learning, and of the most 
religious principles, are much pleased with Luther s books ; 
in proportion as any person is remarkable for upright 
morals and gospel-purity, he has the less objections to 
Luther s sentiments. Besides, the life of the man is 
extolled, even by those who cannot bear his doctrines. It 
grieved him that a man of such FINE PARTS should be ren 
dered desperate by the mad cries and bellowings of the 
monks. When pressed by the Pope s legates to write 
against Luther, he answered, ( Luther is too great a man 
for me to encounter. I do not even always understand 
him. However, to speak plainly, he is so extraordinary a 
man, that I learn more from a single page of his books 
than from all the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Still, as 
the cause advanced, Erasmus did not advance with it, but 
receded. Vanity, a love of the praise of men, was his 
ruling passion ; and the particular mode of it, a desire to 
stand high with great men with princes, dignified eccle 
siastics, and all who were highly thought of to stand 
high, specially on the ground of extreme moderation j 
such as became a man of letters. He would be an Atticus 
in his day. To join heartily with the reformers was not 
the way to achieve this object; they were despised by the 


rulers, and, what was still move provoking, they would not 
make him a king even among themselves. 

Micat inter omnes 
Julium sidus, velut inter ignes 

Luna minores. Hor. 

But he was not that Luna, Luther was that Luna. What 
was to be done therefore, but to pout, and distinctly sepa 
rate himself from them ; giving the princes clearly to 
understand, that they were mistaken if they thought him 
one of them ? Thus, by a sort of dexterous manoeuvre, he 
would kill two birds at once j avenge the injury of his 
{ spreta forma, and open a way for the sun and stars to 
shine in upon him. He confessed this in his answer to 
Luther : < As yet I have not written a syllable against 
you ; otherwise I might have secured much applause from 
the great ; but I saw I should injure the Gospel. I have 
only endeavoured to do away the idea that there is a per 
fect understanding between you and me, and that all your 
doctrines are in my books. Pains have been taken to instil 
this sentiment into the mind of the princes, and it is hard 
even now to convince them that it is not so. Luther 
would have been glad that the matter should rest here. 
Erasmus had done all the service he was made for ; but 
let him not become their enemy : he was a successful 
sharpshooter; some of his shots would hit, annoy and 
dismay. There were underlings, however, in Luther s 
camp, as well as in the Pope s : and these had not quite 
mind enough to preserve Luther s line. They would step 
beyond it ; they lampooned the satirist ; hinted pretty 
broadly what he was, and made him little to his great ones. 
Luther tried to abate the shock of their attack ; but it was 
too late. The enemy had been beforehand with him. 
Henry of England had implored, Adrian in two epistles 
had supplicated, duke George had demanded, Tunstall 
had conjured, Clement had persuaded : and all this, whilst 
the sting of the wasps was yet sore. Luther makes his 

xlvi PREFACE. 

last attempt to pacify him : with great forbearance, yet 
not trenching upon sincerity ; with some galling hints as 
to the real state of the cause, but, as Erasmus himself 
allowed, with sufficient civility. ( I shall not complain of 
you, for having behaved yourself as a man estranged from 
us, to keep fair with the Papists, my enemies ; nor that 
you have censured us with too much acrimony. . . . . ( The 
whole world must own with gratitude your great talents 
and services in the cause of literature, through the revival 
of which we are enabled to read the sacred Scriptures in 
their originals. I never wished that, forsaking or neglect 
ing your own proper talents, you should enter into our 
camp. . . . / I could have wished that the COMPLAINT of 
Hutten had never been published. . . . . I am concerned, 
as well as you that the resentment and hatred of so many 
eminent persons hath been excited against you. I must 
suppose that this gives you no small uneasiness ; for vir 
tue like yours, mere human virtue, cannot raise a man 

above being affected by such trials What can I do 

now ? Things are exasperated on both sides ; and I could 
wish, if I might be allowed to act the part of a mediator, 
that they would cease to attack you with such animosity, 
and suffer your old age to rest in peace in the Lord : and 
thus they would conduct themselves, in my opinion, if 
they either considered your weakness, or the magnitude 
of the controverted cause, which hath been long since 
beyond your capacity. They would shew their moderation 
towards you so much the more, since our affairs are 
advanced to such a point, that our cause is in no peril, 
although even Erasmus should attack it with all his might; 
so far are we from fearing any of his strokes and stric 
tures. Our prayer is, that the Lord may bestow on 

you a spirit worthy of your great reputation ; but if this 
be not granted, I entreat you, if you cannot help us, to 
remain at least a spectator of our severe conflict ; and not 
to join our adversaries j and in particular not to write 

PREFACE. xlvii 

tracts against us ; on which condition I will not publish 
against you/ 

All is in vain : to preserve his gold, to shew his grati 
tude for what he has already received, and (except he be 
barbarously treated) to earn more, his pledges must now 
be redeemed, and out comes the Diatribe.* 

He vapours much about the great danger of publishing 
it : f no printer at Basil would dare to undertake his 
or any work which contained a word against Luther. 
* The die is cast, he tells Henry (to whom he had sent a 
part of the manuscript for his approbation) ; my little book 
on Freewill is published : a bold deed, believe me, if the 
situation of Germany at this time be considered : I expect 
to be pelted ; but I will console myself with the example 
of your majesty, who has not escaped their outrages/ 
Conscience speaks out, when he says to Wolsey, I have 
not chosen to dedicate this work to any one, least my 
calumniators should instantly say that in this business I 
had been hired to please the great : otherwise I would 
have inscribed it to you, or to the Pope/ His ruling 
passion speaks out, when he declares the mighty conse 
quences which he expected from his publication. He 
writes to Tunstall ; ( The little book is out ; and, though 
written with the greatest moderation, will, if I mistake not, 
excite most prodigious commotions. Already pamphlets 
fly at my head/ 

Such was the birth of the Diatribe ; the offspring of a 
peevish, dissatisfied, vain man ; who had tampered with 
both parties, and pleased neither, but was now sufficiently 
determined which side he would be of, yet aimed still to 
preserve his favourite character of moderation. It is the < 
work of a great scholar, but not of a deep thinker ; of / 
one who had scoured the surface of his question, but by no 5 

* He feared losing the pension which he received from England. 
Clement had made him a present of two hundred florins. He had 
received most magnificent promises from popes, prelates and princes. 


xlviii PREFACE. 

means penetrated into its substance ; of one who knew 
[. what is in the Bible, but did not understand the Bible : 
. imposing, but not solid ; objurgatory and commendative ; 
but neither disproving what he blamed, nor establishing, 
or even denning, what he approved. Yet is this a perform- 
< ance, such as, not careless persons only, but half the tribe 
of professedly serious gospellers will defend, and do in 
substance maintain, in opposition to Luther s ; nay, many 
that call and account themselves Calvinists, or Calvinistic 
(I am by no means an advocate for names it is character 
and principle, not sect or party, that I would uphold), are 
in heart and understanding, if not avowedly, Freewillers ; 
squaring, as they seek to do, the testimony of Jesus Christ, 
the Son of God, to the deductions of blinded human rea 
son, and making a God for themselves, by blending shreds 
and patches of Scripture with shreds and patches of their 
own imagination, instead of simply studying, lying at the 
feet of, and inhabiting, that living and true One, whom the 
Bible has been written and published to make known. I 
subscribe my testimony to Luther s, that it is tedious, 
distinctive, illusory, false and pernicious. 

Luther hesitated about answering it ; but at length 
consented to do so, for reasons which he declares in the 
introduction of his letter : if he was to answer such a 
production of such a man upon such a subject, why, it 
must be done as he has done it with all his miijht. He 


that would see Luther, therefore, may behold him here. 

Erasmus replied in two distinct treatises under the 
name of Hyperaspistes, f defender as with a shield ; the 
first, as he tells us, written in ten days, that it might be 
ready for the ensuing Frankfort fair (the great mart for 
literature as well as commerce, in that day) a passionate 
and hasty effusion, in which he did not give himself time 
to think ; the second, a very long and highly-laboured 
performance, in which ( he was completely unfettered, and 
completely in earnest, and, if he had been able, would, 

PREFACE. xlix 

without the least mercy, have trampled on Luther, and 
ground him to powder. l Diis aliter viswn. ( This 
second book is very long and very tedious ; but the tedi- 
ousness, of which every reader must complain, is not owing 
so much to the length of the performance, as to the con 
fusion which pervades it throughout. The writer is kept 
sufficiently alive, amidst great prolixity, by the unceasing 
irritation of his hostility and resentment ; but the reader 
is fatigued and bewildered, by being led through obscure 
paths one after another, and never arriving at any distinct 
and satisfactory conclusion. A close attention of the mind 
to a long series of confused and jumbled propositions 
wearies the intellect, as infallibly, as a continued exertion 
in looking at objects difficult to be distinguished exhausts 
the powers of the most perfect organs of vision. 

Luther did not rejoin to this twofold reply : he well knew 
that Erasmus was fighting for victory, not for truth, and 
he had better things to do than write books merely to repeat 
unanswered arguments. There was nothing of argument 
in the Hyperaspistes, which had not been answered in his 
Bondage of the Will ; even as there was nothing in the 
Diatribe, which had not been in substance advanced and 
confuted many times before. The Letter, or Treatise, 
which is now presented to the public must, therefore, be 
considered as containing Luther s full, final, and, as he; 
deemed it, unrefuted and irrefragable judgment, on the 
state of the human will. 

That state is, according to Erasmus, a state of liberty ; 
according to Luther, a state of bondage. Such is the sub 
ject and position brought into debate by Erasmus, and 
accepted as matter of challenge by Luther. 

The accurate Locke, whose name I would ever recite 
with veneration and gratitude, has shewn that the ques 
tion is improperly stated. The will, he says in substance, 
is but a power of the human mind, or, of the man ; free 
dom is also a power of the man; to ask, therefore, 



whether the will be free is to ask whether one power of 
the man possesses another power of the man ; which 
is like asking, whether his sleep be swift, or his virtue 
square; liberty being as little applicable to the will, 
as swiftness of motion is to sleep, or squareness to 
c virtue. The proper question is, not whether man s will 
)be free, but whether man be free : and this he determines 
* that he is, in so far, and only so far, as he can by the 
f direction or choice of his mind, preferring the existence 
of any action to the non-existence of that action, and vice 
(versa, make it to exist, or not exist ; liberty being a power 
4 to act, or not to act, according as we shall choose, or, will. 
*If however the improper question be still urged, whether 
the will be free, it must be changed into this form; is 
man free to ivill ? that is, has he liberty in the exercise of 
his will ? Now this must respect either the act of exercising 
his will ; or the result of that exercise, the thing chosen. 
As to the former of these, he determines, that, in the greater 
number of cases, man has not liberty ; for when any action 
in his power is once proposed to his thoughts, as presently 
to be done, will he must : in the latter, he determines, that 
he cannot but have liberty ; he wills what he wills, he is 
pleased with what he is pleased with. To make a ques 
tion here, is to suppose that one will determines the acts 
of another, and that another determines that ; and so on 
in iiifinitum.* In this latter assertion, Luther, it must be 
remarked, is as explicit as Locke ; maintaining expressly, 
<that a compelled will is a contradiction in terms, and 
should be called Nohmtas, rather than Volant as : non- 
^ will, rather than will. (See Part i. Sect. xxiv. p. 69.) 

The schoolmen, from whom Luther and Erasmus took 
this question (Erasmus first on this occasion but then 
Luther had taken it up before), made a distinction between 
the absolute faculty of the will, and that faculty as exer 
cised, or, in action. Their question was not, an sit libera 

* See Locke s Essay, vol. i. pp. 195200. b. ii. c. 21. 


voluntas, but an sit liberum arbitrium ? a distinction, in 
fact, without a difference : because, what is the subject 
matter about which they were disputing ? not a dormant 
faculty surely, but a faculty such as it is when exercised ; 
for how else can its nature and properties be ascertained ? 
Luther is as perceptive as Locke himself here. Erasmus, 
in his definition of Freewill, calls it that power of the 
human will by which a man is able to turn himself to 
those things which appertain to his salvation, or to turn 
himself away from them : in reality meaning ta .interpose 
ajsomethibig. between the will .and its actings. Luther, 
when canvassing this definition, denies that there can be 
any such tertium quid , and uses a language so very like 
Locke s, that it might well draw from his historian the 
remark, Luther, with as much acuteness as if he had 
studied Mr. Locke s famous chapter on power, replies &c. J 
( But, what is meant by this same power f applying itself 
and turning away itself; except it be this very willing 
and refusing, this very choosing and despising, this very 
approving and rejecting ; in short, except it be the will 
performing its very office ; I see not. So that we must 
suppose this power to be f a something interposed between 
the will itself and its actings : a power by Avhich the will 
itself draws out the operation of willing and refusing, and 
by which that very act of willing and refusing is elicited. It 
is not possible to imagine or conceive any thing else here. 
See Part iii. Sect. ii. p. 132. 

But this false distinction opens a door to the solution 
of the whole difficulty. Their improper question has been, 
( Is the will free ? The proper question would be, * Is the 
understanding free ? that is, has the man s will all the 
case before it, when he decides upon any given ques 
tion ? A blind understanding will lead to a false deter 
mination, though that determination be made without any 
thing approaching to compulsion. Now this I apprehend 
to be just the true state of the case : the natural man, 



having his understanding darkened, being alienated from 
the life of God, through the ignorance that is in him, be 
cause of the blindness of his heart ; and being, moreover, 
possessed by the devil, whose energizing consists in main 
taining and increasing his blindness ; forms his decisions 
and determinations upon partial and false evidence. The 
same observation extends to the spiritual man, in so far 
as he is not spiritual ; in so far as his flesh, through which 
the devil acts upon him, is allowed in subserviency to the 
great general principle, f God s glory in his real good/ to 
influence the determination of his will. So that it is the 
judgment, perception, or understanding, not the will, cor 
rectly speaking, which is really in bondage ; that faculty, 
which presents objects to the determining faculty, presenting 
them erroneously, either by suppressing what ought to be 
made present, or giving a false colouror distorted appearance 
to that which is, and ought to be, there. This suggestion 
will explain the paradox, that the will is at the same time 
;,free and not free, in popular language : free, inasmuch as 
-- from its very nature it cannot be compelled ; not free, 
inasmuch as it acts in the dark : so that it may more fitly 
be called blind-will, than bond-will; which is Luther s 
term. This suggestion will go further; it will explain all 
mysteries and all paradoxes : Paul s conflict in Romans 
vii. Pharaoh s induration our own daily experience 
nay, the whole system of God s government, in ruling, as 
he does, a world of moral beings flee before it. Only 
such considerations as He makes present can really con 
stitute the materials of any judgment which we form, and 
consequently of any determination which we can come to, 
with respect to our own actings : that is, our volitions, 
whilst free, are subject to His agency, and, through the 
means of our perceptions, His will becomes ours. I have 
adopted throughout, however, the language of the com 
batants ; which is also the language of common life. I 
speak of the will as free, or in bondage ; and I use the 

PREFACE. liii 

term Freewill, as expressive of some supposed power in 
man, separating it into a sort of distinct substance, and 
almost continually personifying it. 

Let it be conceded then, that the question is not cor 
rectly worded; that the proper inquiry is, not whether 
man s will be free, but whether man be free ; or rather, 
as we have just seen, whether his perceptive faculty be 
clear and entire : still the substance of the debate remains 
unaltered, and its importance unimpaired. Essentially, 
we are ascertaining what is the moral state of man ; and 
the considerations, nay, even the expressions, introduced 
into many parts of the discussion, will shew that it is not 
an abstract and isolated question about the will which we 
are entertaining, but an investigation of our Adam soul. 
What shall be called momentous, if this subject be not so ? 
What can be understood, if this be unknown ? Of what \ 
sort is the Christ of an ignorant Freewiller ? (See Part i. 
Sect. v. vi. vii. viii.) The truth is, ignorance of the real 
state of man lies at the root of all religious ignorance, and 
it is, manifestly, the ordained, arranged and continually 
operated course of the Lord s dealings with his people to 
bring them to the knowledge, use and enjoyment of Him 
self through the means of deep, minute, self-emptying 
and self-abasing self-knowledge. How can this be, but 
by opening to us the abyss of impotency as well as crime, 
of blindness as well as enmity, into which we have freely 
plunged ourselves ? 

It is the peculiarity of this treatise to explore the pre 
sent state of the human soul by the aid of scripture testi 
monies and scriptural reasonings, exclusively; without one 
syllable of abstract philosophical investigation beyond what 
is absolutely necessary to the writing and reading upon it 
intelligibly.* Luther was not ignorant of metaphysics ; 

* I was once asked, why, with such an excellent treatise as Jonathan 
Edwards s, and others, in our own language, I thought it necessary to 
revive Luther. Here is my answer. Your great metaphysicians decora- 


he had been thoroughly trained in Aristotle and the school 
men : if he forbore to use such weapons, it was because 
he disdained them ; I should rather say, because, according 
to his own testimony as recited already, he had found 
them pernicious. Erasmus sometimes compels him to 
break a lance of this kind ; when he gives full proof that 
he could have handled such weapons dexterously, if he 
had deemed them to be the weapons of the sanctuary. 
One who was no common speculator, and no unskilful 
arbitrator, has said of him ; Even in the metaphysical 
niceties, which could not be entirely avoided in this ab 
struse inquiry, he proved greatly his (Erasmus s) over 
match. But those who have really submitted themselves 
to the authority of Scripture, and have drunk deep of it 
to know the Father s testimony concerning Jesus, will feel 
that, as this subject is the most momentous which can 
engage the human soul, so this method of investigating it 
can alone be expected to yield a satisfactory conclusion. 
They will rejoice therefore, that such a man as Erasmus 
a man well acquainted with the letter of Scripture (so 
Luther testifies of him qui sic nostra omnia perlustra- 
vit Part iii. Sect. vi. note e ) should have delivered his 
challenge in the form of an appeal to the canonical 
Scriptures only; and that such a man as Luther, who 
had penetrated to no inconsiderable depth in the mines 

pound man ; and, if they could, would decompound God. Your great 
theologians do the same. But if we would really know either man or 
God, we must first learn to take the Bible for granted that it is the 
word of God and then study both, as therein drawn and described : not 
imagining a God for ourselves, by decking out some we know not what 
substratum with a number of what we call attributes ; but remember 
ing, that what we hear called His attributes are in reality parts of His 
essence, and considering, that it is THAT GOOD ONE who hath devised, 
fore-ordained, and in his appointed time manifested the Lord Jesus 
Christ as the image of Himself, in his person and in his actings which 
is our God ; and that we ourselves are parts of that Adam, by his deal 
ings with, and declarations concerning which, in Christ, He has been, 
and is, effecting the manifestation of what He himself is. 


of that volume, should have accepted and brought it to 

The ORDER of the argumentation is minutely shewn in 
the Table of Contents which follows, and is aftenvards 
noticed at the head of each Part and Section. I shall only 
premise therefore, that, after a short Introduction, Luther 
pursues the order of Erasmus s march (who, desultory as 
he is, furnishes us with a clue for his labyrinth-), first 
examining his Preface, then his Proem, then his testi 
monies, then his pretended refutation, and afterwards 
establishing his own position by direct proof : he concludes 
the whole with a pathetic address, even as each Part ex 
hibits a specimen of the melting mood, in its close. It 
is a common idea, that Luther wanted softness ; yet the 
once cloistered, but afterwards conjugal and paternal 
monk, could weep, be gentle, be compassionate, be a little 

The FORM of the treatise is epistolary : it is truly no 
thing else but a LETTER to Erasmus ; and therefore I have 
preferred the division of PARTS to that of CHAPTERS con 
sidering chapters of a letter as anomalous, though we are 
accustomed to it, I grant, in our distribution of the Scrip 
tures : this division however, it is to be remembered, has 
no authority, and has led to much misconstruction ; Locke 
advises those who would understand Paul to disregard it. 
I have only one caution to give with respect to these Parts ; 
which is, that the reader do not suffer himself to take 
fright at some of the less inviting gladiations of the first 
Part not that / account them uninteresting, but that the 
work increases in interest, as it proceeds. I trust the reader 
will find it so, and will remember meanwhile, that we 
must make a way to the walls, as well as storm them. 

I cannot compliment Luther upon his STYLE : the sen 
tences are long, the ideas multifarious ; the words often 
barbarous, their collocation inharmonious. But there is 
always meaning in what he says, although that meaning be 


not always obvious, or clear : he is sometimes elaborately 
eloquent, and often simply so. The language is like the 
man. He is Hercules with his club, rather than Achilles 
with his sword ; more of a Menelaus than an Ulysses ; 
always forcible, sometimes playful; drawing wires now 
and then ; never leaving a loophole for his adversary to 
escape through, but dragging him through many of his own. 

The EXCELLENCES of this treatise are, a noble stand for 
truth on its proper ground God s testimony unmixed with 
man s testimony (see Part ii. Sect, i xii.) ; that ground 
cleared from objection (Partii. Sect. xiii. xiv.); an integral 
part of the truth of God firmly set upon its base (see Part 
iii. Part iv. Part v.) ; much of it, besides, collaterally and 
incidentally asserted or implied proved, or left to clear 
and palpable inference : so that a man need not fear to 
say, Give me Luther, and I will give you THE TRUTH. 

But Luther has not given it us, either in this treatise, 
or elsewhere ; the defects of his theological system being 
manifest in this best of his best,* as well as his other per 
formances : I say * theological system ; because TRUTH is 
one vast whole, not a number of disjointed and dissevered 
propositions a whole made up of many parts, which, 
whilst distinct, are yet so closely interwoven and com 
pacted with each other, that it is scarcely possible to dis 
cern any one of these as it really is, without discerning 
each, and all, and that whole. Let those who deny sys 
tem in the Bible say what they understand by H tiXrjOeia 
(the truth) ; let those who deny system in the Bible say 
why this should be a name for that counsel, or plan, which 
God is executing in Christ ; why it should be a name for 
Christ; why it should be a name for Gocl.f If God be 

* It may not be improper to observe, that Luther himself, many 
years afterwards, had so good an opinion of it, as to declare, that he 
could not revjew any one of his writings with complete satisfaction, 
unless perhaps his Catechism and his Bondage of the Will. 

f See John i. 17- xiv. 6. Eph. i. 13. iv. 21. Col. 15. \ John v. 20. 


himself the only truth, THE TRUE ONE ; if Christ be his 
Image ; if the counsel, or system of divine operations, 
which is in Him, be the image of that Image ; if the Gos 
pel, or doctrine of the kingdom of God, be the word or 
declarer of that counsel ; we can have no difficulty in 
understanding why one and the same term should be 
applied to all these various subjects. They are all, in 
various regards, THE TRUTH. Nor is it a sound objection 
to say, ( this revered man did not see it there/ or, ( that 
revered man did not see it there ; it may be there still : and, 
if it be not there, God has come short of His object in reve 
lation, which is, not to reveal a proposition, but to reveal 
HIMSELF. Let every one so study the Bible as to get to 
know God by it ; which he cannot do, except he realize 
what is there written, IN HIM, and realize it as a whole : 
let him at the same time take this caution he is to get his 
whole, not by murdering or stifling any part, but by giving 
its fair, well-considered and authenticated meaning to each 
and every portion of the testimony. 

The DEFECTS of this treatise, then, are the defects of 
Luther s theological system. It was not given to him 
to discern, that all God s dealings with creatures are 
referable to one vast counsel, devised, ordained and 
operated for the accomplishment of one vast end; that 
this vast end is the manifestation of God ; that this coun 
sel is in all its parts (not in that only which respects 
man s redemption, but every jot of every part) laid, con 
ducted and consummated in and by Christ the eternally 
predestinated, and in time very, risen GOD-MAN* (see 
Part ii. Sect. viii. note r . Part iii. Sect, xxxii. note s ) ; 
much less was it given to him to discern the structure and 
materials of that counsel by which God is effecting this 
end that Adam, meaning not the personal Adam only, 
but all that was created in him, even the whole human 

* See, amongst other places, John i. 114. 1 John i. 1, 2. Coloss. 
i. 1520. Heb. i. Prov. viii. 2231. JVlicah v. 2. 


race, is the great and capital subject of His self-manifest 
ing operations. (See Part iii. Sect, xxviii. notes * v x . Sect, 
xxxvii. note &c.) Though he had some insight into the 
mystery of Christ s person (see Part i. Sect. iii. j also Sect. 
xvi. note n ) that He was verily God and man, a coequal 
in the Trinity made man through the Virgin s impreg 
nation by the Holy Ghost, he was not fully led into the 
mystery that his person is constituted by taking a human 
person, the spiritualized man Jesus, into union with his 
divine person, and that he has been acting in this person, as 
inspired, not by his own godhead, but by the Holy Ghost,* 
from the beginning having subsisted as the glorified 
God-man first predestinately and secretly, up to the period 
of his ascension ; and now, ever since that period, really 
and declaredly doing the will of the Father continually, 
not his own will, by the Holy Ghost s inspiration, not his 
own ; thus exhibiting the Trinity in every act he performs, 
which is, in deed and in truth, every act of God. His 
human person, moreover, was marvellously formed, so as 
to be at the same time both son of Adam and son of God ; 
the Holy Ghost s impregnation gave him a spotless soul ; 
the daughter of Adam gave him a sinful body : thus he 
became the sinless sinner ; thus he that knew no sin waa 
made sin for us, and was in all points tempted like as we 
are, without sin ; that same Holy Ghost which had begotten 
him sinless, keeping him without sin amidst all the tempt 
ations of the world the flesh and the devil, until he had 
died to sin once, and his mortality had been swallowed up 
of life. Into this depth of the mystery of Christ s person, f 

* See especially Matt. xii. 28. Acts i. 1, 2. ii. 22 &c. x. 38. 

f The essence of Christ s person is God-man-hood : He is God the 
equal of the Father and of the Holy Ghost : He is man by the concep 
tion of the Holy Ghost in the Virgin ; He is God-man in one substance, 
through that union of his God person with his man person, which is 
effected by the agency of the Holy Ghost ; Who, being one in essence 
with his God person, inbabiteth that manhood of His which he hath 
generated. What is that manhood so generated? Its essence is a pure, 


of which the essential element is < union yet distinct 
ness both as it respects his divine and human person, 
and as it respects his oneness with us it was not given 
to Luther to penetrate. (See as before, Part ii. Sect. viii. 
note r . Part iii. Sect xxii. note 3 ; also Part v. Sect. xxii. 
note l . Sect, xxviii. note .) Again ; although it was 
given him to see the fact of man s coining into the world 
guilty (which he ascribes to his being born of Adam (see 
Part v. Sect, xx.), and that entire vitiation of his nature, 
as brought into the world with him, which renders him 
both vile and impotent (a fact which he assumes, and 
reasons upon, throughout the whole of his treatise, but 
see especially Part iv. Sect, x.) ; he was not led to see the 
mystery of the creation and fall of every individual of the 
human race, male and female, in and with Adam.* (See 
Part iv. Sect. x. note z . Part v. Sect. xx. note p .) Again ; 
though it was given him to see the fact that there are 
elect and reprobate men, God having predestinated some to 
everlasting life and others to everlasting death ; he had no in 
sight into that covenant-standing in Christ, and the appro- 
spotless, sinless spirit inhabiting (in the days of his flesh, and whilst 
yet it was flesh and blood) a sinful body. Romans i. 3, 4. rightly inter 
preted, confirms this satisfying account of the matter : " Who was 
made of the seed of David according to the flesh, that is, the body ; 
Who was declared to be Son of God with power, according to the spirit 
of holiness that is, according to his spirit ivhich was holy (the oppo 
sition, I maintain, is between his flesh and his spirit) front the period 
of his resurrection (ef avaaTaacwv}. The whole tenour of Scripture 
declaration falls in with this view. His body is his connecting link 
with manhood, that is, with Adam-hood : Son of man is not man 
merely ; man any how begotten, any how made, any how existent (as 
the Lord God might have made five hundred species of men) ; but Son 
of Adam, one who has his being SOME HOW through and of the stock of 

* The notes referred to are explicit and full ; but take an illustration, 
which may be of use to some, 1. from the case of Rebekah, Genesis xxv. 
21 23. (. . . " Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people 
shall be separated from thy bowels) ; and 2. from Heb. vii. 9, 10. (For 
he was yet in the loins of his Father, when &c.) 


priateness of His work, consequently, to the elect, which 
renders God just in acting a difference between them, whilst 
the original and eternal separation is of a law beyond just 
ice even of that sovereignty which knows no limit but 
omnipotency. Thus he was not only left, through his igno 
rance of God s plan and counsel, without any insight into 
that blessed and glorious principle which reconciles the spi 
ritual mind to the severity of his appointments for how, 
else, shall that paramount end of God-manifestation be 
accomplished ? but he was even obliged to give up the 
justice of God (which, both verily and discernibly, is with 
out a flaw in this procedure) and to take refuge in a most 
pernicious falsehood, that we know nothing about God s 
justice, and must be content to be ignorant what it is, till 
.THE DAY disclose it. Why, if justice, truth and all other 
moral excellencies be not in Him essentially what they 
are in us, and according to our spiritual conceptions of 
HIM, chaos is come again: we know nothing nothing 
of God He has revealed himself in vain. (See Part iii. 
Sect, xxviii. notes t v x . Sect, xxxvii. note . Part iv. 
Sect. xv. note n . Part v. Sect, xxxiii. note e .) Again ; 
whilst it was given him to see something of the freeness 
and completeness of a sinner s justification in and by 
Christ, it was impossible, from the very nature of that 
ignorance which hath already been ascribed to him, that 
he should see it correctly and perfectly : he neither saw 
the eternal justification which they received in Christ 
Jesus, distinctly, personally and individually, before the 
world began God engaging to raise them up to Him as 
his accepted ones, for the sake of the merits of His death ; 
nor did he see with precision what constituted their atone 
ment made in time ; nor did he see the state into which 
they were hereby brought, and have from the beginning 
been dealt with as though they had been meritoriously 
brought a state of gracious acceptance, in which they 
can bring forth, as He is pleased to enable them, and 


actually do bring forth, as He is pleased to enable them, 
fruit unto God : nor did he see that, whilst their crown is 
a free crown, the Lord has so arranged, and so brings it 
to pass, that it shall be a righteous thing in God to put a 
difference between the righteous and the wicked ; there 
being a mind in the one, which is correlative to the mani 
festation He has made and is making of himself in his 
new-creation kingdom, whereas in the other there is 
nothing but enmity to Him, as so displayed. Again ; 
though he had some insight into the nature of Holy- 
Ghost-influences, the other parts of his ignorance were 
incompatible with true and correct knowledge here. He 
did not see that the gift of the Holy Ghost is, in fact, the 
gift of His personal presence and agency; altogether a 
super-creation gift, a gift in Christ; had, when and as 
God has been pleased to arrange to give it had therefore, 
when it be good for his people to have, and withheld, as 
to manifestation, when it be good that they have it not ; 
in nowise contributing to the justification, properly so 
called, of a sinner, though enabling the manifestedly justi 
fied to shew their justification. When I say, * in nowise 
contributing, I mean that none of their acts performed 
by and in the Spirit, are what contribute the least particle 
to their acceptance. They are foreknown freely, pre 
destinated freely, called freely, justified freely (that is, 
have their absolution from all sin testified to them freely) 
glorified freely; whilst it is the Holy Ghost who alone 
enables, nay constrains them to believe, thereby exhibit 
ing in their persons an obedience to the divine command 
ment,* and putting a badge upon them which declares 

* God has given a commandment, " Repent ye, and believe the Gos 
pel;" " And this is his commandment, that \ve believe on the name &c." 
This command is congruous to that manifestation which he makes of 
himself in his super-creation kingdom ; say rather, is congruous to what 
He himself is He being, even as He hath hereby shewn himself to be, 
the God, who, in perfect harmony and consistency with all other per 
fections, is love, grace and mercy. The giving of this commandment, 


that they are in the number of those for whom Christ 
according to the will of the Father thus evinced to be 
the will of the sacred and coequal Three in due time died. 
Luther s ignorance on this subject led him to speak of 
Adam s having the Spirit, of the Spirit s being our law- 
fuliiller, and of the Jewish church, as not having been 
justified by the law, because they had not the Spirit. (See 
Part iv. Sect. x. note z . Part v. Sect. x. note z .) As if the 
Spirit of grace were a creational, natural, or legal possession! 
Again ; whilst he saw the Law to be a condemning pre 
cept, he did not understand its real nature, form and 
design j that it was an interpolation, typical in all its 
parts, preparatory, temporary; whose glory was to be 
done away. (See Part iii. Sect. xxiv. note . Part v. Sect. 
x. xi. xii. xiii.) This ignorance led him to bring it back 
upon the people of God, instead of banishing it for ever ; 
to heap burdens with his left hand, which he had hardly 
removed with his right. He was not led to apprehend the 
distinct nature, as well as end, of Law obedience and Gospel 
obedience : that obedience to the Law, which he sub 
stantially, if not in word, demanded, is not only an obeying 
for life instead of an acting of the life given ; but is even 
a denying of God to be what He is and is manifesting 
himself to be, whilst we profess to be believing in Him, 
and serving Him.* 

and the receiving of his people according to it, falls in with his great 
design of God manifestation, by drawing out, as it does, what is in man, 
and shewing HIM as dealing with what is so drawn out, according to 
justice and equity. It no way disparages the freeness of the grace, whilst 
it manifests to the uttermost the justness of the indignation. Which 
of the reprobate disobeys the Gospel edict, because he counts himself 
to be a reprobate ? and which of them has any right to deal with him 
self as such ? 

* The law is a perfect transcript of creation man s duty, in enigma ; 
typical emblem of Christ as the unblemished Lamb, and of the law of the 
Spirit of life which is laid up in Him (" Your lamb shall be without 
blemish," Exod. xii. 5. ..." And put the tables in the ark which I had 
made," Deut. x. 5. ..." A new covenant ... I will put my laws into 


These are some of the principal DEFECTS of Luther s 
theology :* which he manifests, as might be expected, in 

their mind, etc." Heb. viii. 8 11.), and real teacher that Adam cannot 
obey his Maker; say rather, that creature, a* creature, cannot fulfil the 
law of his sort. But grace has a new MIND to study, and is cast into 
a mould correspondent to that mind brought to a mind which is of 
much higher tone, and of other string, than that which God taught and 
demanded at Sinai. 

* I would be understood as not pretending to make full and accurate 
references in proof of Luther s seelngs and not scelngs (which would, 
in fact, be to analyze and anatomize the whole of his work), but merely 
to give a hint at each. And now, I well know how I shall be arraigned 
of arrogancy, for having dared to controvert his positions, nay more, to 
judge and to condemn him. 1 can only say, as Luther did at Worms ; Here 
I stand. I cannot do otherwise. May God help me. Amen. It is the 
fashion to speak of Luther and the rest of the reformers as little less 
than inspired men, and of the cera of the Reformation, as the season of 
an effusion of the Spirit : the same sort of expression has been applied 
also to later times ; to a supposed, and, as I will hope, real revival of 
religion which took place in Whitfield s time. Such expressions are 
unwarranted : I know but of one effusion, when, " being by the right 
hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of 
the Holy Ghost, Jesus did shed forth that which was seen and heard," 
on the day of Pentecost. Granting, therefore, what I would by no 
means dispute, that it has been the Lord s blessed will from the begin 
ning to make peculiar display of his Spirit at certain seasons-^-as in 
private and personal experience, so in the community of his people 
and not sticking at a word, but calling this, if you please, EFFUSION ; 
what is the extent of the benefit? It is not meant that the atmosphere 
is impregnated with spiritual influences, so that all who live at such a 
period, and within the circle of it, are made partakers of the boon. 
Else, whence come the Caiaphases and the Alexanders, the Felixes and 
the Caesars ? It goes no farther, than that certain persons are pecu 
liarly taught, strengthened and comforted at these seasons ; and that the 
number so instructed and enlivened is greater than in ordinary times. 
It does not follow, that the blessed Spirit hath, at these seasons, taught 
and shewn all that ever is to be taught and shewn of God and of his 
truth. The Uible and other records shew, that there has, on the con 
trary, been a progression in His teaching ; in the manner of revealing, 
if not in the matter revealed. Though all truth be contained in, " And 
I will put enmity between thee and the woman &c." this truth has been 
made plainer, in various degrees, since the beginning ; to Abraham, to 
Moses, to David, to the Prophets, the Evangelists and the Apostles. 
It would not be adventurous to affirm, that, as the Prophets spake to as 
well as of the Apostles days ; so the Apostles have spoken to as well 


this elaborate treatise. I have dealt fairly, as I believe, 
both with his excellencies and with his defects. It has 
been my endeavour to give the most faithful rendering I 
could to his whole text, and to every word and syllable of 
it. His excellencies, which, if I have succeeded in my 
endeavour, cannot be hidden, I have made yet more con 
spicuous by extricating each point of his argument, and 
specifying it distinctly, with the numbers 1.2. 3. &c. pre 
fixed. His errors and defects 1 have endeavoured to 
obviate and to supply, severally, by telling out THE TRUTH. 
My statements are ample, but I am not aware that they 
are prolix. I have desired to consult brevity; and, in 
some instances, have obtained, as I fear, the reward of 

of later times ; times yet for to come. Is it sacrilege or blasphemy to 
say, that what Paul and John wrote and spake shall be better under 
stood, and is even now better understood, generally in the church, than 
it was by their own immediate hearers and readers, if not by themselves. 
It would be preposterous surely to affirm, that nothing lias been added 
to the store of evangelical learning, since Luther s time, by the dis 
covery of additional manuscripts, and by the collation of them ; by the 
improved knowledge of the original languages ; by the illustrations of 
travellers, and other sources of intelligence, inquiry and communi 
cation. Whilst all other knowledge is progressive, why should biblical 
knowledge be stationary ? Has it, in fact, been so ? is it even yet so ? 
And it is plain, this remaik does not apply to the elucidation of pro 
phecy exclusively ; it extends to the counsel and truth- of God. Take 
our fourth Article as a specimen. In Luther s and our reformers time, 
I suppose every body expected to rise with a flesh and blood body, as 
that Article speaks in spite of Paul s clear words. But now, we have 
been taught with what sort of a body the Lord rose, and what sort of 
an one we may look to be clothed with, ourselves. (See 1 Cor. xv. 
44 54. See also Bishop Horsley s NINE DISCOUKSKS ON OUR LORD S 
RESURRECTION.) These hints must be my defence iigainst the supposed 
arrogancy of impugning and correcting Luther. The Reformation did 
not absorb the spiritual Sun, any more than former or later periods had, 
or have done so. He still continues to shoot forth his rays, when and us 
it pleascth Him ; and those on whom they fall have already received their 
direction how to deal with them, from his own mouth, where He says, 
" No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or 
putteth it under a bed ; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which 
enter in may see the light." Luke viii. 16. 


laboured brevity, by becoming obscure. But I hope not 
often so. 

The reader must have seen already, that, if I was to 
publish Luther, it must be with NOTES. I honestly believe, 
that he would be unintelligible without; as well as defective 
and fallacious. I have therefore adhered rigidly to two 
simple principles throughout, Luther, all Luther, and 
nothing but Luther, in the text; my own sentiments, 
whether agreeing with, or contradicting his, in the notes/ 

Now, if it be asked why, in all wonder, have you 
thought it worth your while to publish Luther at all, when 
you pronounce his sentiments to be both defective and. 
erroneous ; I am not without an answer. With all its defects 
and errors, confessed and professed, I count this a truly 
estimable, magnificent and illustrious treatise. I publish 
it therefore, 1. Because I deem the subject all-important. 
2. Because I know no other work of value upon this all- 
important subject, which discusses it by the same sort of 
argumentation. 3. Because Luther s name is gold with 
some, and will, I hope, beget readers. 4. Because his 
right is so very right, and so very forcible. 5. Because his 
very errors and defects throw some rays of light upon 
their corrector and supplier, claim and obtain a hearing 
for him, and open a way to the more successful march 
and entry of truth. The wise Paley remarks, that, if he 
could but make his pupils sensible of the precise nature of 
the difficulty, he was half way towards conquering it Let 
the reader see what sort of a God, and of a Christ, and of 
a salvation, Luther, when brought into day, sets before 
him ; and my expectation is, he will cry out for something 

I have said Luther s name is gold, and Luther, as I 
trust, will beget readers. Do not let it be supposed that 
I am therefore leaning upon Luther s arm for the support of 
truth. That be far from me. I disclaim, as he did, man s 
authority ; what he protested against the Fathers, that I 


protest against him, and against every uninspired teacher. 
The fair and legitimate use of human authority is to 
awaken attention. What so eminent a man of God has 
said, is worth listening to, is worth weighing : but, could 
he now be called before us, he would say, ( Weigh it in the 
balances of Scripture ; I desire to be received no farther 
than as I speak according to the oracles of God. High 
respect is due to the opinions of a godly, God-raised, God- 
owned man but he is man, fallible man at last ; and this 
man carried the mark of his fallibility with him to his 
grave, yea, has left it not in his writings only, but as a 
frontlet between the eyes of his blindly-devoted followers 
who consubstantiate with him. a To the law and to the 
testimony" Well ! but neither will that appeal ensure 
the knowledge of THE TRUTH : all do not know THE TRUTH 
who search the Scriptures. It is the Scripture as we be 
lieve it to be opened to us by the Holy Ghost, \vhich is 
the guide of our spirit ; and, whilst we are bound to yield a 
certain deference and obedience to the decisions of a law 
fully constituted human tribunal submitting to its inflic 
tions even to the destruction, not of our worldly substance 
only, but of our flesh our spirit owns no fetters but those 
which the Spirit imposes. 

I commend this work therefore, both as it respects 
Luther and as it respects my own part in it, to the candid, 
patient and anxious consideration of the reader j earnestly 
requesting him to compare what is here written with the 
Scriptures, and carrying with him into that comparison a 
prayer which I here breathe out for him, f Lord, grant me 
to understand thy word ; preserve me from concluding 
rashly against any thing that is written in this book, how 
ever it may contradict my preconceived opinion ; and 
what is true in it enable THOU me to welcome, digest, 
hold fast and enjoy ! 

I have already hinted that my desire has been to accom 
plish a faithful translation. I believe the Lord has given 


me my desire. I need scarcely say I have found it a diffi 
cult undertaking. Every scholar knows that the work of 
translation is one of great nicety. There is in every lan 
guage some one word which more precisely than any other 
corresponds with the given one ; but it may often be the 
rumination of many hours to find that word. This has 
been much of my toil. Luther s work, above most others, 
demanded it : he abounds in emphatic and distinctive 
words. His meaning also, as I have said, is not always un 
ambiguous. He wrote, too, in a dead language : in which, 
though he doubtless tried his best on this occasion, and 
was complimented by having it supposed that the elegant 
pen of Melancthon had assisted him, he was but a clumsy 
and middle-aged composer. He has proverbs, moreover, 
without end ; some German, some classical. The Ger 
mans, you know (as a very learned friend, whom I con 
sulted in one of my difficulties, obligingly writes to me), 
are great proverbialists, and many of their allusions are 
now lost. I have searched a great variety of authors, on a 
similar inquiry (he was kind enough to do so now), but 
in vain. / too, in a much more humble way, have made 
some search and a great deal of inquiry, but have learned 
.nothing: witness, the Wolf and the Nightingale (p. 79), 
the beast which eats itself (p. 196), and the palm and 
the gourd (p. 373). My greatest perplexity has arisen 
from his^^i some instances mixing the old with the 
new, an^^ing me, like a will o the wisp, to go after 
him, because I fancied I had a lantern to guide me, but 
soon found myself left in darkness. 

I fear my notes will incur the censure of two different 
sorts of reader ; each of whom will account many of them 
superfluous. I can only say none of them have been inserted 
without thought and design. To the learned I have been 
anxious to vindicate my accuracy ; to the unlearned I have 
been anxious to give such helps as might enable them to 
understand me. The learned must bear the burden of 


Ixviii PREFACE. 

my laborious dulness, and the unlearned, of my Latin and 

With respect to my theology, I shall not wonder if I 

appear more positive and dogmatical to some, than even 
Luther himself. Let me be understood here. Whilst I 
make no claim to infallibility, but desire only that my 
assertions may be brought to the standard of Scripture, I 
desire to give my reader the full benefit of the firmness 
and deliberateness with which I have formed, entertained, 
and advanced my opinion, by omitting all such qualifying 
and hesitative restrictions, as ( if I mistake not, I believe 
it will be found, ( I would venture to affirm &c. Such 
subjects require a mind made up in the instructor ; and, 
if he would not invite others to doubt, his language must 
breathe the indubitative confidence which he feels. Be 
sides, there is an energy, as well as an importance in 
truth, which inspires, even as it demands, boldness. 

I cannot take leave of my reader without desiring him 
to acknowledge his obligations to the late venerable Dean 
of Carlisle, Dr. Milner, to whose completion of his bro 
ther s valuable history I am indebted, almost exclusively, 
for my account of Luther : a work of great research ; in 
which, by ransacking a vast body of original documents, 
and drawing light from sources which former historians had 
been content to leave unexplored, he has vindicated, 
illustrated and adorned this dauntless standarclsJiearer of 
the Reformation. 


IN the following work, it has been my endeavour to assist 
the unlearned and those who may not have access to 
books, by giving some account of the various persons 
named in it by the author. I believe I have been tolerably 
consistent in doing so, but am aware that I have left two 
capital writers without note or comment. I would aim 
at uniformity therefore, by supplying this deficiency here : 
Plato is one of these, Augustine is the other. Not only 
their celebrity, but the frequent reference made to them 
by Luther (especially to the latter), would render my 
omission inexcusable. 

1. The great PLATO then (for such he truly was), seems 
to have been no favourite with Luther ; who was deeply 
conscious of the mischievous tendency of his writings as 
fostering a spirit of proud self-sufficiency, and as having 
cooperated with other sources of error to contaminate the 
truth, by exhibiting some semblances of its glory and 
beauty. In Part iv. Sect. Hi. he speaks contemptuously 
of his Chaos ; and in Part ii. Sect. v. of his Ideas. This 
Plato, Mnvever, appears to have been led into some vast 
conceptions of God (whence he derived them, is another 
question) his nature, will, power and operations into 
some exalted aspirations after communion with himand 
into some elaborate attempts to purify and elevate the 
morals of his countrymen. Like others who speculated 
upon God, without God s guidance, he made matter eternal 
as well as God, though he gave God a supremacy over it, 
and ascribed to him both the modelling of the world, and 


the commanding of it into being. Doubtless, it is a 
strange jumble which he makes the world having 
a soul, nay a compound soul; man with his two souls, 
and second causes placing a material body round a germ 
of immortality ! but in his chaos/ wild as it is, and that 
universal soul which was plunged into it and by its agi 
tation brought out order, we see the vestige of corrupted 
truth ; in his ( ideas, or * first forms of things/ we see 
something yet more nearly approaching to reality even 
the eternal God devising, ordaining and protruding every 
thing which exists ; and in his ideal world with God 
reigning in its highest height, as compared with the visi 
ble system and its sun, we catch a faint glimpse of the 
invisible glory, and of that repose which shall be found in 
the uninterrupted contemplation of the reposing God. I 
am not for bringing men back to Platonism, but for letting 
them see, that even pagan Plato had a conception and a 
relish beyond many on whom the true light has shone ; and 
for leading them to understand, that revelation and tradition 
have extended much more widely than they are aware of; 
so that it ought not to appear strange, if even heathens are 
dealt with on a ground of knowledge which we may falsely 
have supposed that they had not the means of possessing. 
(See Part iii. Sect, xxviii. note v . Part v. Sect. xxvi. note c .) 
( The notion of a Trinity, more or less removed from the 
purity of the Christian faith, is found to have been a lead 
ing principle in all the ancient schools of philosophy, and 
in the religions of almost all nations; and traces of an 
early popular belief of it appear even in the abominable 
rites of idolatrous worship. If reason was insufficient for 
this great discovery, what could be the means of inform 
ation but what the Platonists themselves assign, OeoTrapa- 
COTO? GeoXorym ; f a theology delivered from the Gods, i. e. a 
revelation. This is the account which Platonists, who 
were no Christians, have given of the origin of their mas 
ter s doctrine. But from what revelation could they derive 


their information, who lived before the Christian, and had 
no light from the Mosaic ? For whatever some of the 
early Fathers may have imagined, there is no evidence 
that Plato or Pythagoras were at all acquainted with the 
Mosaic writings : not to insist that the worship of a Trinity 
is traced to an earlier age than that of Plato or of Pytha 
goras, or even of Moses. Their information could only 
be drawn from traditions founded upon earlier revelations ; 
from the scattered fragments of the ancient patriarchal 
creed ; that creed which was universal before the defec 
tion of the first idolaters, which the corruptions of idola 
try, gross and enormous as they were, could never totally 
obliterate. ( What Socrates said of him, what Plato 
writ, and the rest of the heathen philosophers of several 
nations, is all no more than the twilight of revelation, after 
the sun of it was set in the race of Noah. (See Horsley s 
Letters to Priestley, pp. 49, 50.) 

I am the rather surprised that Luther should fleer so 
roughly at Plato, because his beloved Augustine acknow 
ledged obligations to him. And first, as thou M T ouldest 
shew me how thou resistest the proud, and givest grace 
to the humble ; and how great thy mercy is shewn to 
be in the way of humility; thou procuredst for me, by 
means of a person highly inflated with philosophical pride, 
some of the books of Plato translated into Latin, in which 
I read passages concerning the divine word similar to those 
in the first chapter of St John s Gospel ; in which his 
eternal divinity was exhibited, but not his incarnation, his 
atonement, his humiliation, and glorification of his human 
nature. For thou hast hid these things from the wise and 
prudent, and revealed them unto babes ; that men might 
come to thee weary and heavy laden, and that thou 

mightest refresh them Thus did I begin to form better 

views of the divine nature, even from Plato s writings, as 
thy people of old spoiled the Egyptians of their gold, 
because, whatever good there is iu any tiling, is all thy 


own j and at the same time I was enabled to escape the 
evil which was in those books, and not to attend to the 
idols of Egypt/ His historian remarks upon this, ( there is 
something divinely spiritual in the manner of his deliver 
ance. That the Platonic books also should give the first 
occasion is very remarkable j though I apprehend the Latin 
translation, which he saw, had improved on Plato, by the 
mixture of something scriptural, according to the manner 
of the Ammonian philosophers. * Thus Plato, it seems, 
could hold the candle to an Augustine, whilst he was him 
self far from the light : but there was truth, we see, and 
discriminating truth, mixed and blended with his false 

2. AUGUSTINE S errors were those of Luther, increased 

* Milner does not appear to have understood what the investigating 
Horsley has made plain, that neither was Plato an inventor, neither were 
the Ammonians scriptural improvers of human inventions, but both 
Plato and those from whom he copied retailers, in fact, of mutilated 
revelations. These notions were by no means peculiar to the Platonic 
school : the Platonists pretended to be no more than the expositors of a 
more ancient doctrine ; which is traced from Plato to Parmenides ; 
from. Parmenides to his masters of the Pythagorean sect ; from the 
Pythagoreans to Orpheus, the earliest of the Grecian mystagogues ; 
from Orpheus to the secret lore of the Egyptian priests ; in which the 
foundations of the Orphic theology were laid. Similar notions of a 
triple principle prevailed in the Persian and Chaldean theology ; and 
vestiges even of the worship of a Trinity were discernible in the 
Roman superstition in a very late age ; this worship the Romans had 
received from their Trojan ancestors. For the Trojans brought it with 
them into Italy from Phrygia. In Phrygia it was introduced by Dar- 
danus as early as in the ninth century after Noah s flood. Dardanus 
carried it with him from Samothrace, where the personages that were 
the objects of it were worshipped under the heathen name of the 
Cabirim. . . . The Great or Mighty .ones : for that is the import of the 
Hebrew name. And of the like import is their Latin appellation, 

Penates Thus the joint worship of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, 

the triad of the Roman capital, is traced to that of the THREE MIGHTY 
ONES in Samothrace ; which was established in that island, at what 
precise time it is impossible to determine, but earlier, if Eusebius may 
be credited, than the days of AbraAani. Horsley s Letters to Priestley, 
pp. 4749. 


by an ignorance of the doctrine of justification : he had 
the elements of this doctrine, it is said, but he never put 
them together. His case was a very remarkable one. 
After a profligate youth, in which he had run to great 
excess of riot j after having infected himself with the 
poison of the Manichees (see Part iv. Sect. ix. note v . 
Sect. xi. note h ); after having sold himself into the ser 
vice of vain-glory, lasciviousnes, pride and atheism, he 
was made to bow down before the true God, and to kiss 
his Son. God had hereby signally and specially prepared 
him to be the champion of grace in opposition to Pela- 
gianism ; which started up in his days a many-varied 
monster. By degrees he was led to use his own expe 
rience as an interpreter of Scripture ; and though, as his 
historian tells us, St. Paul s doctrine of predestination was 
a doctrine that, with him, followed experimental religion, 
as a shadow follows the substance it was not embraced 
for its own sake yet follow him it did ; and he was per 
suaded of it, and embraced it, and maintained it in much, 
though not all of its vigour, against its antagonists. In 
fact, how could he defend the doctrine of grace, as his 
historian terms it (meaning thereby not grace in its ful 
ness, but only the gift of the Spirit), without it ? If his 
historian be correct, we have in him a confirmation of the 
salutary effect of controversy ; it was Pelagianism which 
made Augustine understand what he did of predestination : 
we have it also exemplified, that, not to know the root and 
outline of truth is not to know any branch or feature of 
it thoroughly. His historian would commend him for 
his moderation, which is here another name for his igno 
rance ; but the reality is, not thoroughly understanding 
predestination, which is the root " of the mystery of God, 
and of the Father, and of Christ," he did not understand 
justification, he did not understand redemption, he did not 
understand man s state, he did not understand that grace 
of which he was the strenuous and honoured defender. 


Grace of the Spirit (properly so called) is but a part of the 
grace of God the Father, which was given us in Christ 
Jesus before the world began ; and even of that part, of 
which he spake so sweetly and so feelingly, he did not 
discern the spring, channel and mouth. What is to be 
said of this how it should have been so arranged to this 
beloved child, that he should have been left, and kept, 
and used in his ignorance, is one question ; the fact that 
he was so left is another. The truth is, he and his 
venerable yoke-fellow Luther are clear confirmers of the 
position I have maintained in a preceding note (see p. Ixiii.) 
that the light of divine truth is progressive ; Augustine 
knew what Cyprian did not, and Luther knew what 
Augustine did not and why is the climax to end with 
Luther, Calvin and Cranmer ? Grace however, though 
not in all its fulness, yet in all its freeness, was Augus 
tine s theme and Augustine s glory. With such a his 
tory going before, how could he teach any thing else ? 
( The distinguishing glory of the Gospel is to teach 
humility, and to give God his due honour ; and Augustine 
was singularly prepared for this by a course of internal 
experience. He had felt human insufficiency completely, 
and knew that in himself dwelt no good thing. Hence he 
was admirably qualified to describe the total depravity and 
apostasy of human nature, and he described what he knew 

to be true Humility is his theme. Augustine taught 

men what it is to be humble before God. This he does 
every where Math godly simplicity, with inexpressible 
seriousness. And in doing this, no writer, uninspired, 
ever exceeded, I am apt to think ever equalled him in any 
age Few writers have been equal to him in de 
scribing the internal conflict of flesh and spirit He 

describes this in a manner unknown to any but those who 
have deeply felt it : and the Pelagian pretensions to per 
fection oblige him to say more than otherwise would be 
needful to prove, that the most humble and the most holy 


have, through life, to combat with in-dwelling sin. . . . Two 
more practical subjects he delights to handle, charity and 
heavenly-mindedness. In both he excels wonderfully. . . 
A reference of all things to a future life, and the depth 
of humble love appear in all his writings ; as in truth, 
from the moment of his conversion, they influenced all his 
practice. With all his darkness, therefore, abiding thick 
upon him (we are not to call darkness light because God 
commanded the light to shine out of it), He who formeth 
the light and createth darkness made him light to His 
church. For a thousand years and upwards the light of 
divine grace, which shone here and there in individuals, 
during the dreary night of superstition, was nourished by 
his writings ; which, next to the sacred Scriptures, were 
the guides of men who feared God : nor have we, in all 
history, an instance of so extensive utility derived to the 
church from the writings of men. Beatus Augustinus is 
the title by which he is commonly quoted ; and a word 
from him, for confirmation, was usually made an end of 
all strife by Luther, Calvin, and all the Oracles of the 
Reformation, when eleven hundred years had rolled over 
his ashes. 
















j Till 


i. Assertions defended. 

ii. Erasmus a sceptic. 

in. Christian truth not 

iv. Scripture falsely ac 
cused of obscurity. 
v. Freewill a necessary 

vi. Erasmus s Christianity. 

vn. The same exposed by 


Connection of the sub 
ject with true piety. 

IX. Erasmus has omitted 
God s prescience. 


x. God s prescience flows 
from Erasmus s con 

xi. Objection to term e Ne 
cessity. Necessity of 
a consequence, &c. 
xii. Prevalence of the opi 
nion of Necessity/ 
xni. Temerity of Erasmus s 

xiv. All Scripture truth may 

be published safely. 
xv. That some truths 
ought not to be pub 
lished considered. 




xvi. Erasmus s three ex 
amples considered. 

xvii. Erasmus neither un 
derstands nor feels 
the question. 

xvin. Peace of the world 

xix. Free confession. The 
Pope and God at 
war. The people 

XX. Respect of persons, 
time and place per 

xxi. The Fathers have no 
authority but from 
the word. 


xxii. c All things by ne 
cessity; f God all 
in all. 

xxin. Two reasons why 
certain paradoxes 
should be preached. 

xxiv. That all human 
works are neces 
sary, explained and 

xxv. Erasmus self-con 
victed : madness of 
claiming Freewill. 

xxvi. Erasmus reduced to 
a dilemma. 


i. Canonical Scriptures 

xi. Erasmus s perplexity. 

to be the standard. 

xn. Two tribunals for the 

ii. Excellences of the 

spirits of men. 

Fathers not of Free 

xin. Clearness of Scrip 


ture proved. 

in. Luther demands ef 

xiv. The same. 

fects of Freewill in 

xv. Concludes against 

three particulars. 


iv. The Saints practically 

xvi. f All your adversaries 

disclaim Freewill. 

shall not be able to 

v. Luther demands a de 

resist/ considered. 

finition of Freewill. 

xvii. We have this pro 

vi. Erasmus s advice 

mised victory. 

turned against him 

xvm. Why great geniuses 


have been blind 

vn. Injustice done to the 

about Freewill. 


xix. That Erasmus has 

viu. ( That God should 

admitted Scripture 

have disguised the 

to be clear. 

error of his church, 

XX. Erasmus reduced to 


a dilemma. 

ix. The church hidden. 

xxi. Luther claims vic 

x. Judgment of faith 

tory before the 

distinct from judg 

battle . 

ment of charity. 





I. Erasmus s definition 
of Freewill exa 

ii. Definition continued. 
in. Definition continued. 
iv. Inferences from Eras 
mus s definition. 
V. Erasmus s definition 
compared with that 
of the Sophists, 
vi. Eccl us . xv. 15 18. 

vii. Opinions on Freewill 


vin. Erasmus inconsistent 
with his definition. 
ix. The approvable opi 
nion considered. 
x. The approvable opi 
nion further consi 

xi. Freewill not a c ne 
gative intermediate 
power of the will. 
xn. The approvable opi 
nion compared with 
the other two. 
xni. Eccl us . xv. 14 18. 
resumed and ex 

xiv. Eccl lls . at least does 
not decide for Free 
xv. What meant by c If 

thou wilt, &c. 
xvi. Use of such forms of 


xvii. Diatribe insincere in 
her inference 

proves too much 















Conclude that Ec- 
cl us . proves nothing 
for Freewill. 
Genesis iv. 7 con 

Dent. xxx. 19. con 

Passages from Deut. 
xxx. &c. considered. 
His Scriptures prove 
nothing; his addi 
tions too much. 
Simile of the hand 
tied. Uses of the 

Isaiah i. 19. xxx. 
21.xlv. 20. Hi. 1, 2. 
and some other pas 
sages considered. 
Mai. iii. 7- more 
particularly consi 

Ezek. xviii. 23. con 

The true meaning 
of Ezek. xviii. 23. 

Ezek. xviii. 23. ne 
gatives Freewill, in 
stead of proving it. 
, How far Cod may 
be said to bewail 
the death he pro 

Exhortations, pro 
mises, &c. of Scrip 
ture useless. 
, Deut. xxx. 11 14. 

, Sum of the Old Tes 
tament witnesses for 




xxxii. New Testament 
witnesses for Free 
will, beginning with 
Matthew xxiii. 37 
39. considered. 

xxxin. The reality of 
God s secret will 

xxxiv. Matthew xix. !/ 
and other like pas 
sages, considered. 
xxxv. Objection,, that 
precepts are given, 
and merit is ascribed 
to Freewill/ 

xxxvi. New Testament 
precepts are ad 
dressed to the con 
verted, not to those 
in Freewill. 

xxxvn. Merit and reward 
may consist with 

i. Erasmus has but two 

texts to kill, 
n. Kills by resolving 
them into tropes : 
which he defends 
by Luther s ex 

in. Trope and conse 
quence when only 
to be admitted. 

IV. Luther denies having 
used trope in his 
interpretation of 
" Stretch out/ and 
" Make you." 

v. Diatribe must prove 
by Scripture or mi 
racle, that the very 
passage in question 
is tropical. 


xxxvin. Why there are 
promises and threat- 
enings in Scripture. 
xxxix. Reason is an 
swered, Such is 
the will of God. 
XL. Apology for not 
going further. Ab 
surd cavil from 
Matt. vii. 16. 
XLI. Luke xxiii. 34. is 
against not fur 
XLII. John i. 12. is all 

for grace. 

XLI n. Objections from 
Paul summarily de 

XLIV. Wickliffe s confes 
sion confessed. 


vi. Erasmus s trope 
makes nonsense of 
Moses, and leaves 
the knot tied, 
vii. Necessity still re 
mains, and you do 
not clear God. 
vin. Diatribe s similes of 
sun and rain re 

ix. Erasmus s two causes 
for tropicizing con 

x. That God made all 
things very good, 
not a sufficient rea 
xi. How God works evil 

in us, considered, 
xii. How God hardens. 




xni. Mistakes prohi 
xiv. Pharaoh s case 


xv. Impertinent ques 
tions may still be 

xvi. The trope com 
pared with the text, 
xvn. Moses s object is 
to strengthen Is 

xviii. Paul s reference in 
Rom. ix. Diatribe 
obliged to yield. 
xix. Diatribe s conces 
sions and retrac 
tions exposed. 
xx. Where true rever 
ence for Scripture 

xxi. What carnal rea 
son hates. 

xxn. Paul s argument 
resumed. Diatribe 
tries to escape but 

xxm. Necessity of a 
consequent/ ex 

xxiv. The other admit 
ted text defended. 
xxv. Paul defended in 
his use of Genesis 
xxv. 21 23. 
xxvi. The same, 
xxvii. Diatribe s eva 
sions of Malachi i. 
2, 3. considered, 
xxvin. The same. 
xxix. The same. 
xxx. Simile of the pot 

xxxi. The cavil from 
2 Tim. ii. repelled. 


xxxii. Reason s cavil 

from this simile. 
xxxin. The same. 
xxxiv. That Scripture 
must be understood 
with qualifications. 
xxxv. That Luther has 
always maintained 
the consistency of 
xxxvi. After all Paul 


xxxvn. Gen. vi. 3. main 
xxxvin. Gen. viii. 21. and 

vi. 5. maintained. 
xxxix. Isaiah xl. 2. main 

XL. Episode upon 
God s help. Cor 
nelius rescued. 
XLI. Isaiah xl. 6, 7. 

XLII. The true interpret- 

ation of the same. 
XLIII. Heathen virtue is 

God s abhorrence. 
XLIV. Consequences of 
the assumption that 
a part of man is not 
< flesh. 

XLV. Luther falsely 
charged. Autho 
rity of the ancients, 
XLVI. Jeremiah x. 23, 

24. defended. 
XL vn. Proverbs xvi. 1. 

XLVIII. Much in Proverbs 

for Freewill. 
XLIX. John xv. 5. main 

L. Inconsistency 




1,1. Luther proves his 


LI i. 1 Cor.iii. 7- 1 Cor. 

xiii. 2. John iii. 27 . 

LIU. Diatribe s similes 

naught, and against 

O - O 

. her. What she 
ought to have spok 
en to. 


LIV. Diatribe s incon 
sistency and auda 
city takes up one 
subject and pursues 
another argues by 

LV. Solemn conclu 


i. How Luther pro 
poses to conduct 
the fight. 

ii. Romans i. 18. pro 
nounces sentence 
upon Freewill. 

in. A published Gos 
pel proves want of 
knowledge as well 
as power. 

iv. Freewill neither 
conceives the truth 
nor can endure it. 
v. Paul expressly 

names the chiefest 
of the Greeks, and 
afterwards con 
demns the Jews in 

vi. Paul s epilogue es 
tablishes his mean 

vn. Paul justified in his 


vin. David s condemna 
tion includes power 
as well as act. 

ix. Paul s big words in 
Romans iii. 19, 20. 
insisted upon. 

x. Evasion, that it is 
ceremonial law of 
which Paul speaks, 
xi. Paul s meaning is, 
4 works of the law 
done in the flesh 
xn. All the law does is 

9 to shew sin. 
xin. Confirmed by Gal. 
iii. 19. and Rom. v. 

xiv. Rom. iii. 21 25. 
contains five thun 
derbolts against 
xv. The same. 
xvi. The same, 
xvii. Sophists worse than 

the Pelagians, 
xvin. Fathers overlooked 


xix. Paul s citation of the 
example of Abra 
ham searched and 

xx. Luther omits much 
which he might in 
sist upon. 





xxi. Luther s own view 

John iii. 27. John 

of Paul. 

iii. 31. John viii. 23. 

xxn. Paul s crown. 

xxix. John vi. 44. 

xxin. Grace exemplified 

xxx. John xvi. 9. 

in Jews rejected 

xxxi. Omits flesh and 

Gentiles called. 


xxiv. John a devourer. 
xxv. John Baptist s tes 

xxxii. Difficulty stated,and 

xxvi. Nicodemus s case. 
xxvn. John xiv. 6. fore 

xxxiii. The same reproved, 
and palliated by ex 

stalled. Way,Truth, 

xxxiv. Sum of the argu 

&c. are exclusive. 


xxvin. John iii. 18. 36. 



22, note P,/or Chap. ii. read Part ii. 

(JO, note i,/ r Chap. i. Sect. iii. note . read Part i. Sect iii note 

71, notes for Sect. ix. note <*. read Sect. ix. note *. 

199, side note, for Some read Sum. 

225, note i,/or y read % 








To the venerable Mr. Erasmus of Rotterdam 
Martin Luther sends grace and peace in Christ. 

Reasons for the Work. 

IN replying so tardily to your Diatribe 3 on 
Freewill, my venerable Erasmus, I have done 
violence both to the general expectation and to 
my own custom. Till this instance, I have seemed 
willing not only to lay hold on such opportunities 
of writing when they occurred to me, but even to go 
in search of them without provocation. Some per 
haps will be ready to wonder at this new and un 
usual patience, as it may be, or fear of Luther s ; 
who has not been roused from his silence even 
by so many speeches and letters which have been 
bandied to and fro amongst his adversaries, 
congratulating Erasmus upon his victory, and 
chaunting an lo PcEan. So then, this Macca- 

a Diatribe.] One of the names by which Erasmus chose to 
distinguish his performance on Freewill. He borrows it from 
the debates of the ancient philosophers ; and would be under 
stood to announce a canvassing of the question rather than 
a judicial determination upon it. The original Greek term 
denotes, 1. The place trodden by the feet whilst they were 
engaged in the debate. 2. The time spent in sucli debate. 
3. The debate itself. Erasmus s Diatribe, therefore, is a 
disquisition, or disputation, on Freewill. Luther often per 
sonifies it. 


basus and most inflexible Assertor has at length 
found an antagonist worthy of him, whom he does 
not dare to open his mouth against ! 

I am so far from blaming these men, however, 
that I am quite ready to yield a palm to you 
myself, such as I never yet did to any man ; ad 
mitting, that you not only very far excel me in 1 
eloquence and genius (a palm which we all de 
servedly yield to you how much more such a; 
man as I ; a barbarian who have always dwelt 
amidst barbarism), but that you have checked 
both my spirit and my inclination to answer you, 
and have made me languid before the battle 
This you have done twice over: first, by your art 
in pleading this cause with such a wonderful com 
mand of temper, from first to last, that you have 
made it impossible for me to be angry with you; 
and secondly, by contriving, through fortune, ac 
cident or fate, to say nothing on this great sub 
ject which has not been said before. In fact, you] 
say so much less for Freewill, and yet ascribe so 
much more to it, than the Sophists" have done 
before you (of which I shall speak more at large 
hereafter), that it seemed quite superfluous to an 
swer those arguments of yours which I have so 
often confuted myself, and which have been trod 
den under foot, and crushed to atoms, by Philip 
Melancthon s invincible * Common Places/ In 

b The schoolmen, with Peter Lombard at their head, who 
arose about the middle of the twelfth century ; idolizers of 
Aristotle ; their theology abounding with metaphysical subtil- 
ties, and their disputations greatly resembling those of the 
Greek sophists. 

c Luther refers to the former editions of Melancthon s 
Common Places/ which contained some passages not found 
in the later ones ; this amongst others. The divine pre 
destination takes away liberty* from man : for all things happen 
according to divine predestination ; as well the external ac 
tions as the internal thoughts of all creatures. . . . The judgment 
of the Hcsh abhors this sentiment, but the judgment of the 

* Not choice, but unbiassed choice; freeness and contingency of 
choice. ED. 


my judgment, that work of his deserves not only to 
be immortalized, but even canonized. So mean and 
worthless did yours appear, when compared with it, 
that I exceedingly pitied you, who were polluting 
your most elegant and ingenious diction with such 
filth of argument,, and was quite angry with your 
most unworthy matter, for being conveyed in so 
richly ornamented a style of eloquence. It is just 
as if the sweepings of the house or of the stable 
were borne about on men s shoulders in vases of 
gold and silver ! You seem to have been sensi 
ble of this yourself, from the difficulty with which 
you was persuaded to undertake the office of 
writing, on this occasion ; your conscience, no 
doubt, admonishing you, that with whatever pow 
ers of eloquence you might attempt the subject, 
it would be impossible so to gloss it over that I 
should not discover the excrementitious nature of 
your matter through all the tricksy ornaments of 
phrase with which you might cover it ; that J 
should not discover it, I say; who, though rude 
in speech, am, by the grace of God, not rude in 
knowledge. For I do not hesitate, with Paul, 
thus to claim the gift of knowledge for myself, 

spirit embraces it. For you will not learn the fear of God, or 
confidence in Him, from any source more surely than when 
you shall have imbued your mind with this sentiment concern 
ing predestination. It is to passages such as these that Luther 
doubtless refers in the testimony here given to Melancthon s 
work ; and from the withdrawing of which in subsequent edi 
tions, it has been inferred that Melancthon afterwards changed 
his sentiments upon these subjects. The late Dean of Car 
lisle has investigated this supposition with his usual accuracy 
and diligence ; and concludes that he probably did alter his 
earlier sentiments to some extent in later life. Truth, how 
ever does not stand in man or by man. Too much has no 
doubt been made of supposed changes in the opinions of 
many learned and pious divines. But after all, what do these 
prove ? We have the same sources of knoAvledgc as they, 
and must draw our light from the clear spring, not from the 
polluted and uncertain stream. See Milaer s Eccles. Hist, 
vol. iv. p. 920936, first edition, 


and with equal confidence to withhold it from you ; 
whilst I claim eloquence and genius for you, and 
willingly,, as I ought to do, withhold them from 

So that I have been led to reason thus with 
myself. If there be those who have neither drunk 
deeper into our writings, nor yet more firmly 
maintain them, (fortified as they are by such an 
accumulation of Scripture proofs) than to be 
shaken by those trifling or good for nothing argu 
ments of Erasmus, though dressed out, I admit, 
in the most engaging apparel ; such persons are 
not worth being cured by an answer from me: for 
nothing could be said or written which would be 
sufficient for such men, though many thousands of 
books should be repeated even a thousand times 
over. You might just as w r ell plough the sea 
shore and cast your seed into the sand, or fill a cask, 
that is full of holes, with water. We have mi 
nistered abundantly to those who have drunk of 
the Spirit as their teacher through the instru 
mentality of our books, and they perfectly despise 
your performances ; and as for those who read 
without the Spirit, it is no wonder if they be 
driven like the seed with every wind. To such 
persons God would not say enough, if he were 
to convert all his creatures into tongues. So that 
I should almost have determined to leave these 
persons, stumbled as they were by your publication, 
with the crowd which glories in you and decrees 
you a triumph. 

You see then, that it is neither the multitude 
of my engagements, nor the difficulty of the under 
taking, nor the vastness of your eloquence, nor 
any fear of you, but mere disgust, indignation, 
and contempt ; or, to say the truth, my deliberate 
judgment respecting your Diatribe, which has 
restrained the impulse of my mind to answer you: 
not to mention what has also its place here, that 
fever like yourself you with the greatest pertina- 


city take care to be always evasive and ambi- $ 
guous. d More cautious than Ulysses, you flatter < 
yourself that you contrive to sail between Scylla 
and Charybdis ; whilst you would be understood 
to have asserted nothing, yet again assume the 
air of an asserter. With men of this sort how is 
it possible to confer and to compare-," unless one 
should possess the art of catching Proteus? Here 
after I will shew you with Christ s help what I can 
do in this way, and what you have gained by put 
ting me to it. 

Still it is not without reason that I answer you 
now. The faithful brethren in Christ impel me 
by suggesting the general expectation which is 
entertained of a reply from my pen ; inasmuch as 
the authority of Erasmus is not to be despised, 
and the true Christian doctrine is brought into 
jeopardy in the hearts of many. At length too it 
has occurred to me that there has been a great 
want of piety in my silence ; and that I have been 
beguiled by the wisdom or wickedness of my 
flesh into a forgetfulness of my office, which makes 
me debtor to the wise and to the unwise, especially 
when I am called to the discharge of it by the en 
treaties of so many of the brethren. For, although 
our business f be not content with an external 

d Lubricus etjlexlloquus. ] Lub. one that slips out of your 
hands, so that you cannot grapple with him. Flex. f one whose 
words will bend many ways j as being of doubtful or pliable 

e Cow/erri aut componi.] What Erasmus professed to do, and 
thereupon gave the name of Collatio to his Treatise : a sort 
of conference and comparison of sentiment ; each dis 
putant bringing his opinion and arguments, and placing them 
front to front with his opponent s. Proteus was a sort of 
Demigod supposed to have the power of changing himself into 
many forms. 

f Res nostra."] The ministering of Christ is the business 
here spoken of, by a phrase correspondent with res bellica/ 
res navalis, res judiciaria, &c. &c. as being the trade, occu 
pation, and alone concern of Christ s ministers $ in whose name 
he here speaks. 


teacher, but besides him who planteth and water- 
eth without, desires the Spirit of God also (that 
He may give the increase,, and being Himself life 
may teach the doctrine of life within the soul a 
thought which imposed upon me); still, whereas 
this Spirit is free, and breathes, not where we would, 
but where He himself wills ; I ought to have ob 
served that rule of Paul s, "Be instant in season, 
out of season " for we know not at what hour 
the Lord shall come. What if some have not yet 
experienced the teaching of the Spirit through my 
writings, and have been dashed to the ground by 
your Diatribe ! It may be their hour was not yet 

And who knows but God may deign to visit 
even you, my excellent Erasmus, by so wretched 
and frail a little vessel of His, as myself? Who 
knows but I may come to you in happy hour (I 
wish it from my heart of the Father of Mercies 
through Christ our Lord) by means of this trea 
tise, and may gain a most dear brother? For, 
although you both think ill and write ill on the 
subject of Freewill, I owe you vast obligations, 
for having greatly confirmed me in my sentiments, 
by giving me to see the cause of Freewill pleaded 
by such and so great a genius, with all his might, 
and yet after all so little effected, that it stands 
, worse than it did before. An evident proof this, 
that Freewill is a downright lie ; since, like the 
woman in the Gospel, the more it is healed of 
the doctors the worse it fares. I shall give un 
bounded thanks to you, if the event be, that you 
are made to know the truth through me, even as / 
have become more fixed in it through you. How- 
beit, each of these results is the gift of the Spirit, 
not the achievement of our own good offices. g 

s Offitii nostri.~\ Off. What a man has to do; his business, 
implying relation ; as f munus et officium oculorum, the office 
or function of the eye. Hence, f good office, obligation, kind 
ness conferred. 


We must therefore pray God to open my mouth 
and your heart and the hearts of all men, and to 
be himself present as a Teacher in the midst of 
us, speaking and hearing severally within our 
souls. Once more; let me beg of you, my Eras 
mus, to bear with my rudeness of speech, even 
as I bear with your ignorance on these subjects. 
God gives not all his gifts to one man; nor have 
we all power to do all things ; or, as Paul says, 
"There are distributions of gifts, but the same 
Spirit." It remains, therefore, that the gifts labour 
mutually for each other, and that one man bear 
the burden of another s penury by the gift which 
he has himself received ; thus shall we fulfil the 
law of Christ. (Galat. vi. 2.) 




Assertions defended. 

I WOULD begin with passing rapidly through 
some chapters of your Preface, by which you 
sink our cause and set off your own. a And first, hav 
ing already in other publications found fault with me 
for being so positive and inflexible in assertion, you 
in this declare yourself to be so little pleased with 
assertions that you would be ready to go over 
and side b with the Sceptics on any subject in 
which the inviolable authority of the divine Scrip 
tures, and the decrees of the Church (to which you 
on all occasions willingly submit your own judg 
ment, whether you understand what she prescribes, 
or not) would allow you to do so. This is the 
temper you like. 

I give you credit, as I ought, for saying this 
with a benevolent mind, which loves peace ; but 
if another man were to say so, I should perhaps 
inveigh against him, as my manner is. I ought 
not however to suffer even you, though writing 
with the best intention, to indulge so erroneous 

a Gravas, ornas.~] The figure is mixed : gr. clog, load, weigh 
down. Orn. beautify with apparel. 

b Pedibus discessurus.~\ A Roman phrase taken from their me 
thod of voting in the senate, when they dissented from the 
decree as proposed : they walked over to the opposite side of 
the house. 


an opinion. For it is not the property of a SECT. i. 

Christian mind to be displeased with assertions; 

nay, a man must absolutely be pleased with asser- Assertion s 
tions, or he never will be a Christian. Now, 
(that we may not mock each other with vague 
words ) I call adhering with constancy, affirming, 
confessing, maintaining, and invincibly per 
severing, ASSERTION ; nor do I believe that the 
word ( assertion means any thing else, either as 
used by the Latins, or in our age. Again ; I,cqn- 
fine assertion to those things which have been 
delivered by God to us in the sacred writings. 
We do not want Erasmus, or any other Master, 
to teach us that in doubtful matters, or in matters 
unprofitable and unnecessary, assertions are not 
only foolish but even impious ; those very strifes 
and contentions, which Paul more than once con 
demns. Nor do you speak of these, I suppose, 
in this place ; unless, either adopting the manner 
of a ridiculous Orator, you have chosen to pre 
sume one subject of debate and discuss another, 
like him who harangued the Rhombus; or, with 
the madness of an impious Writer, are contend 
ing that the article of Freewill is dubious or 
unnecessary. d 

c Ne verbis ludamvr ."] f That we may not be mocked by 
words ; made the sport of words. 

d f r elut ille ad Rhombum."] If you be indeed speaking of such 
assertions here, you are either a ridiculous orator, or a mad 
writer : a ridiculous orator, if it be not true genuine Freewill 
which you are discussing ; a mad writer, if it be. Oratory was 
out of place, on such a subject, however sincere and dis 
interested the speaker might be ; but orators were for the 
most part a venal and frivolous tribe, and some exercised their 
art unskilfully, whilst others were hired but to amuse and make 
sport. It is not without meaning, therefore, that Luther puts 
the orator and the writer into comparison ; and if Erasmus is 
to fill the weightier place of the writer, it is that of one 
phrensied and blasphemous. I am indebted to the kindness of 
a learned friend for the reference, velut ille ad Rhombum, 
which had perplexed me. I can have no doubt that it is to 
the fourth Satire of Juvenal, where Doraitian is represented as 


TART. I. We Christians disclaim all intercourse with the 

Sceptics and Academics, but admit into our family 

asserters twofold more obstinate, than even the 
Stoics themselves. How often does the Apostle 

having called a council of his senators to deliberate what 
should be done with an immense Rhombus, or Turbot ; with 
which a fisherman out of fear had presented him. Amongst 
other counsellors was a blind man, of very infamous character, 
as an informer, but high in the favour of the Emperor, named 
Catullus ; cum mortifero Catullo. 

" Grande ct conspicmim nostro quoque temporc monstrum 
4< Cescut adulator." 

This man extolled the Rhombus exceedingly, pointing to its 
various beauties with his hand, as if he really saw them. But 
unfortunately, whilst he pointed to the fish as lying on his left 
hand, it lay all the while on his right. 

* Nemo magis Rhombum stupuit : nam plurima dixit 
" In laevum conversus : at illi dextra jaccbat 
" Eellua : 

This was not the only occasion on which he had given scope 
to his imagination, and praised as though he had eyes : 

"sic pugnas Cilicis laudabat et ictus, 

" Et pegma, et pueros inde ad velaria raptos." Juv. iv. 113 121. 

The force of the comparison, therefore, lies in Erasmus 
being supposed to discuss the phantom of his own imagination, 
instead of the real Rhombus. This phantom he might call 
dubious or unnecessary, without being himself impious ; it was 
the coinage of his own brain : but if he called the real 
Rhombus, the Church s confession of Freewill, dubious or 
useless, he wrote gravely, but he wrote sacrilegiously. He has 
only the alternative, therefore, of being a fool or a madman, 
if he place Luther s assertion on Freewill amongst the barren 
and vain. The word praesumere is used in rather a peculiar, 
but not unauthorized, sense ; correspondent with our English 
word, presume, and with its own etymology ; preconceive/ 
anticipate, conjecture, imagine, opinari, credere/ 
conjicere/ imaginari. I should rather have preferred un 
derstanding praesumere in the sense of anticipating / mean 
ing that he spoke of one subject here in his Preface, and of 
another in the body of his work. But the illustration does not 
coincide with this view ; Catullus did not make two speeches : 
nor do I find any authority for such use of praesumere. It 
has a peculiar rhetorical sense of pre-occupying j that is, 
occupying the adversary s ground before him/ by an 
ticipating and obviating his objections. But this will not 
apply here. 


Paul demand that Plerophory, or most assured SECT. i. 
and most tenacious ( assertion of what our con- 
science believes ! In Rom. x. he calls it confes- 
sion ; saying, " and with the mouth confession is 
made unto salvation." (Rom. x. 10.) And Christ 
says, " He who confesses me before men, him will 
I also confess before my Father." (Matt. x. 32.) 
Peter commands us to give a reason of the hope 
that is in us. (1 Pet. iii. 15.) And what need of 
many words? Nothing is more notorious and 
more celebrated amongst Christians than Asser 
tion : take away assertions, and you take away 
Christianity. Nay, the Holy Ghost is given to 
them from heaven, that He may glorify Christ and 
confess him even unto death. Unless this be not 
asserting, to die for confessing and asserting ! In 
short, the Spirit is such an assertor, that He even 
goes out as a champion to invade the world, and 
reproves it of sin, as though he would provoke it 
to the fight; and Paul commands Timothy to 
" rebuke, and to be instant out of season." ("John 
xvi. 8. 2 Tim. iv. 2.) But what a droll sort of 
rebuker would he be, who neither assuredly be 
lieves, nor with constancy asserts himself, the 
truth which he rebukes others for rejecting. I 
would send the fellow to Anticyra/ But I am far 
more foolish myself, in wasting words and time 
upon a matter clearer than the sun. What Chris 
tian would endure that assertions should be de 
spised ? This were nothing else but a denial of all 
religion and piety at once ; or an assertion, that 
neither religion, nor piety, nor any dogma of the 
faith, is of the least moment. And why, pray, do 
you also deal in assertions ? ( I am not pleased 

e Luther has no authority for this interpretation of the terra 
Plerophory ; which expresses no more than full evidence to a 
fact, or truth ; or, full assurance of that fact or truth. But 
in substance he is correct j confession (which amounts to 
assertion) is demanded. 

f Antic. ] The famous island of Hellebore ; which cured inad 
people. Hence Naviget Anticyram. Hor. 


PART I. with assertions, and I like this temper better than 

its opposite. 

But you would be understood to have meant 
nothing about confessing Christ and his dogmas 
in this place. I thank you for the hint ; and, out 
of kindness to you, will recede from my right and 
from my practice, and will forbear to judge of 
your intention; reserving such judgment for an 
other time, or for other topics. Meanwhile, I 
advise you to correct your tongue and your pen, 
and hereafter to abstain from such expressions ; 
for however your mind may be sound and pure, 
your speech (which is said to be the image of the 
mind) is not so. For, if you judge the cause of 
Freewill to be one which it is not necessary to 
understand, and to be no part of Christianity, you 
speak correctly, but your judgment is profane. 
On the contrary, if you judge it to be necessary, 
you speak profanely and judge correctly. But 
then there is no room for these mighty complaints 
and exaggerations about useless assertions and 
contentions : for what have these to* do with the 
question at issue ? 
SECT. ii. But what say you to those words of yours in 

which you speak not of the cause of Freewill only, 

Erasmus fo^t of all religious dogmas in general, that, if 
beTsdV the inviolable authority of the divine writings and 
*"" the decrees of the Church allowed it, you would 

go over and side with the Sceptics ; so displeased 
are you with assertions. 

What a Proteus is there in those words, in 
violable authority and decrees of the Church I 
As if you had a great reverence, forsooth, for the 
Scriptures and for the Church, but would hint a 
wish that you were at liberty to become a Sceptic. 
What Christian would speak so? If you say this 
of useless dogmas about matters of indifference, 
what novelty is there in it ? Who does not in 
such cases desire the licence of the Sceptical pro 
fession? Nay, what Christian does not, in point 


of fact,, freely use this licence and condemn those SE CT. n. 
who are the sworn captives of any particular sen- ^~^ 
timent ? Unless (as your words almost express) shewn to 
you account Christians, taken in the gross, to be a b . e a Sce P- 
sort of men whose doctrines are of no value, 
though they be foolish enough to jangle about 
them, and to fight the battle of counter-assertion ! 
If, on the contrary, you speak of necessary doc 
trines, what assertion can be more impious than 
for a man to say, that he wishes to be at liberty to 
assert nothing, in such cases ? A Christian will 
rather say, e So far am I from delighting in the 
sentiment of the Sceptics, that, wherever the 
infirmity of my flesh suffers me, I would not only 
adhere firmly to the word of God, asserting as it 
asserts ; but would even wish to be as confident as 
possible in matters not necessary, and which fall 
without the limits of Scripture assertion. For 
what is more wretched tlmn uncertainty ? 

Again ; what shall we say to the words subjoin 
ed, ( to which I in all things willingly submit my 
judgment, whether I understand what they pre 
scribe, or not ? What is this you say, Erasmus ? 
Is it not enough to have submitted your judgment 
to Scripture? do you submit it also to the decrees 
of the Church? What has she power to decree, 
which the Scripture has not decreed ? If so, what 
becomes of liberty, and of the power of judging 
those dogmatists : as Paul writes in 1 Cor. xiv. 
" Let the others judge?" You do not like, it seems, 
that there should be a judge set over the decrees of 
the Church; but Paul enjoins it. What is this 
new devotedness and humility of yours, that you 
take away from us (as far as your example goes) 
the power of judging the decrees of men, and 
submit yourself to men, blindfold? Where does 
the divine Scripture impose this on us? Then 
again, what Christian would so commit the in 
junctions of Scripture and of the Church to the 
winds, as to say whether I apprehend, or do not 


PARTI, apprehend. You submit yourself, and yet do not 

care whether you apprehend what you profess, or 

not. But a Christian is accursed, if he do not 
apprehend, with assurance, the things enjoined to 
him. Indeed, how shall he believe if he do not ap 
prehend ? For you call it apprehending here, if a 
man assuredly receives an affirmation, and does 
not, like a Sceptic, doubt it. Else, what is there 
that any man can apprehend in any creature, if e to 
apprehend a thing be perfectly to know and 
discern it ? Besides, there would then be no 
place for a man s at the same time apprehending 
some things, and not apprehending some things, in 
the same substance ; but if he have apprehended 
one thing, he must have apprehended all : as in 
God, for instance ; whom we must apprehend, be 
fore we can apprehend any part of his creation. 

In short, these expressions of yours come to this : 
that, in your view, it is no matter what any man 
believes any where, if but the peace of the world 
be preserved ; and that, when a man s life, fame, 
property and good favour are in danger, he may 
be allowed to imitate the fellow who said They 
affirm, I affirm ; they deny, I deny ; and to account 
Christian doctrines nothing better than the opi 
nions of philosophers and ordinary men, for which 
it is most foolish to wrangle, contend and assert, 
because nothing but contention and a disturbing of 
the peace of the world results therefrom. f What is 
above us, is nothing to us/ You interpose yourself^ 
as a mediator who would put an end to our conflicts 
by hanging both parties and persuading us that we 
are fighting for foolish and useless objects. This 
is what your words come to, I say ; and I think you 
understand what I suppress here, my Erasmus. 5 

s Luther does not choose to speak out on the subject of 
Erasmus s scepticism and infidelity, but hints pretty broadly at 
it. There is but too strong evidence that the insinuation was 
just ; and it constituted the most galling part of his attack. 
Erasmus s object was to rise upon the ruins of Luther ; but 


However, let the words pass, as I have said ; and, SECT. HI. 

in the mean time, I will excuse your spirit, on the 

condition that you manifest it no further. O fear 
the Spirit of God, who searches the reins and the 
hearts, arid is not beguiled by fine words. I have 
said thus much to deter you from hereafter loading 
our cause with charges of positiveness and inflexi 
bility ; for, upon this plan, you only shew that you 
are nourishing in your heart a Lucian, or some 
other hog of the Epicurean sty, who, having no be 
lief at all of a God himself, laughs in his sleeve at 
all those who believe and confess one. Allow us 
to be asserters, to be studious of assertions, and 
to be delighted with them ; but thou, meanwhile, 
bestow thy favour upon thy Sceptics and Acade 
mics, till Christ shall have called even thee also. 
The Holy Ghost is no Sceptic ; nor has He written 
dubious propositions, or mere opinions, upon our< 
hearts, but assertions more assured and more firmly 
rooted than life itself, and all that we have learned 
from experience. 11 

I come to another head, which is of a piece Christian 
with this. When you distinguish between chris- truth ] s re ; 

. , J , , vealed and 

nan dogmas, you pretend that some are necessary ascertain- 
to be known, and some unnecessary; you say that ed.nothid- 
some are shut up, and some exposed to view. 1 
Thus, you either mock us with the words of others, 
which have been imposed upon yourself, or try 
your hand at a sort of rhetorical sally of your own. 
You adduce, in support of your sentiment, that say 
ing of Paul s (Rom. xi. 33.) " O the depth of the 
riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ;" 

with what face could the Pope or the Princes prefer an Infidel ? 
See Milner s Eccles. Hist. vol. iv. 935 945. 

h A beautiful testimony to the confidence inspired into the 
soul by the Holy Ghost s teaching s ! We are more sure of 
the truth of His assertions than that we lire ; and hold them 
more firmly than we do the results of experience. 

1 Abstrusa, cxposit(i.~\ Abst. thrust from us, as into secret 
places; hidden from view, like the apocryphal writings. 
Expos, set out in broad day/ like goods exposed to sale. 



PARTI, and that of Isaiah too (Isa. xl. 13.) "Who hath 
assisted the Spirit of the Lord, or who hath been 
his counsellor"? It was easy for you to say these 
things, either as one who knew that he was not 
writing to Luther, but for the multitude; or as one 
\v ho did not consider that he was writing against 
Luther: to whom you still give credit, as I hope, for 
some study and discernment in the Scriptures. 
If not, see whether I do not even extort it from 
you. If I also may be allowed to play the rheto 
rician, or logician, for a moment, [ would make 
this distinction : God, and the writing of God, 
are two things ; no less than the Creator, and the 
creature of God, are two things. Now, that there 
be many things hidden in God, which we are igno 
rant of, no one doubts; as he speaks himself of the 
last day, " Of that day knoweth no man, but the 
Father." (Matt. xxiv. 36.) And again, in Acts i. 
"It is not for you to know the times and the 
seasons." And again; "I know whom I have 
chosen." k (John xiii. 18.) And Paul says, "The 
Lord knoweth them that are His" : (2 Tim. ii. 19.) 
and the like. But that some dogmas of Scripture 
are shut up in the dark, and all are not exposed to 
view, has been rumoured, it is true, by profane 
Sophists (with whose mouth you also speak here, 
Erasmus), but they have never produced a single in 
stance, nor can they produce one, by way of making 
good this mad assertion of theirs. Yet, by such 
hobgoblins as these, Satan has deterred men from 
reading the sacred writings; and has rendered 
holy Scripture contemptible, that he might cause 
his own pestilent heresies, derived from philoso 
phy, to reign in the Church. I confess indeed 

k Luther appears to understand this text as most do : lie 
knew who those were amongst men, whom he had chosen ; 
with a supposed reference to eternal election. But the Greek 
text plainly determines it to mean, f I know the real character 
and state of those persons whom I have chosen ; referring to 
the Twelve exclusively, as those whom he afterwards (xv. 19.) 
declares himself to have chosen out of the world. 


that many passages of Scripture are obscure and SECT in. 
shut up; not so much through the vastness of the 
truths declared in them, as through our ignorance 
of words and grammar: but I maintain that these veaied and 
do not at all prevent our knowledge of all things ascertain- 
contained in the Scriptures. For what, that is of a den? 
more august nature, can yet remain concealed in 
Scripture, now that, after the breaking of the seals, 
and rolling away of the stone from the door of the 
sepulchre, that greatest of all mysteries has been 
spread abroad, that ( Christ, the Son of God, is 
made man 7 ; 1 that ( God is at the same time Three 
and One; that Christ has suffered for us, and 
shall reign for ever and ever ? Are not these 
things known, and even sung in the streets ? Take 
Christ from the Scriptures, and what will you any 
longer find in them? 

The things contained in the Scriptures, then, 
are all brought forth into view, though some pas 
sages still remain obscure, through our not under 
standing the words. But it is foolish and pro 
fane to know that all the truths of Scripture are 
set out to view in the clearest light, and, because 
a few words are obscure, to call the truths them 
selves obscure. If the words be obscure in one 
place, they are plain in another; and the same truth, 
declared most openly to the whole world, is both 
announced in the Scriptures by clear words, and 
left latent by means of obscure ones. But of what 
moment is it, if the truth itself be in the light, that 
some one testimony to it be yet in the dark ; when 
many other testimonies to the same truth, mean 
while, are in the light ? Who will say that a 
public fountain is not in the light, because those 

1 Who was declared to be the Son of God with power, ac 
cording to the spirit of holiness," (opposed to, " which was 
made of the seed of David according to the flesh," in the 
preceding verse) " by the resurrection from the dead." Rom.i.4. 
Fractis signaculis. The stone at the door of the sepulchre 
was sealed. Matt, xxvii. 65. 66. 



PARTI, who live in a narrow entry do not see it, whilst 

all who live in the market-place, do see it ? m 

SECT. iv. Your allusion to the Corycian cave," therefore, 

is nothing to the purpose. The case is not as 

Sc f ri i pt V ie y u represent it, with respect to the Scriptures, 
accusecfof The most abstruse mysteries, and those of greatest 
obscurity, majesty, are no longer in retreat, but stand at 

the very door of the cave, in open space, drawn 
out and exposed to view. For Christ hath 
opened our understanding, that w r e should un 
derstand the Scriptures. (Luke xxiv. 45.) And 
the Gospel has been preached to every creature. 
(Mark xvi. 15. Coloss. i. 23.) Their sound 
has gone out into all the land. (Ps. xix. 4.) And 
all things which have been written, have been 
written for our learning. (Rom. xv. 4.) Also, 
all Scripture having been written by inspiration of 
God, is useful for teaching. (2 Tim. iii. 16.) 
Thou, therefore, and all thy Sophists come and 
produce a single mystery in the Scriptures, which 
still remains shut up. The fact, that so many truths 
are still shut up to many, arises not from .any 
obscurity in the Scriptures, but from their own 
blindness, or carelessness ; which is such, that 
they take no pains to discern the truth, though 
it be most evident. As Paul says of the Jews, 
(2 Cor. iii. 15.) "The veil remains upon their 
heart." And again, (2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.) " If our 
Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost ; 
whose hearts the G od of this world hath blinded." 
To blame Scripture, in this matter, is a rashness 
like that of the man who should complain of the 
sun and of the darkness, after having veiled his 

m Luther s affirmation and argument is of the greatest im 
portance here. All the truth of God, he maintains, is expli 
citly and intelligibly declared in Scripture; in some passages 
more obscurely, through our ignorance of words ; in others 
more manifestly and unequivocally: but there is no truth, 
no dogma, that is not distinctly taught and confirmed. 

n A cave of singular virtue in Mount Cory c us of Cilicia, 
supposed to be inhabited by the Gods. 


own eyes, or gone from out of the day-light into SEC. iv. 
a dark room to bide himself. Then let these - 
wretches cease from such a blasphemous per- 

verseness as to impute the darkness and dulness accused of 
of their own minds to the Scriptures of God; obscurity. 
which are light itself. 

So, when you adduce Paul exclaiming "how 
incomprehensible are his judgments " you seem to 
have referred the pronoun HIS to the Scripture. 
But Paul does not say how incomprehensible are 
the judgments of Scripture, but of God. Thus 
Isaiah (Isai. xl. 13.) does not say who hath 
known the mind of Scripture, but, " who hath 
known the mind of the Lord?" Howbeit, Paul 
asserts that the mind of the Lord is known to 
Christians : but then it is about <f those things 
which have been freely given to us"; as he speaks 
in the same place. (1 Cor. ii. 10. 16.) You see, 
therefore, how carelessly you have inspected these 
passages of Scripture; which you have cited, about 
as aptly as you have done nearly all your others 
in support of Freewill. And thus, your instances, 
which you subjoin with a good deal of suspicion 
and venom, are nothing to the purpose ; such as 
the distinction of Persons in the Godhead/ the 
combination of the divine and human nature, and 
the unpardonable sin: whose ambiguity, you say, 
has not even yet been clean removed. If you 
allude to questions which the Sophists have 
agitated on these subjects, I am ready to ask what 
that most innocent volume of Scripture hath done 
to you, that you should charge her with the abuse, 
with which wicked men have contaminated her 
purity? Scripture simply makes confession of 
the Trinity of Persons in God, of the humanity of 
Christ, and of the unpardonable sin : what is there 

Rescctitm.~\ Erasmus s term j taken from f the dose cutting of 
the nails, or hair, or heard ;" or, from the excision of the 
unsound flesh in wounds. It implies, that all the ambiguity is 
not yet withdrawn, though some of it may be, 


PART i. of obscurity, or of ambiguity here ? How these 
things subsist, the Scripture has not told us, as 
you pretend it has ; nor have we any need to know. 
The Sophists discuss their own dreams on these sub 
jects : accuse and condemn them, if you please, but 
acquit Scripture. If, on the other hand, you 
speak of the essential truth, and not of factitious 
questions, I say again, do not accuse Scripture, 
but the Arians, and those to whom the Gospel is 
hid, to such a degree, that they have no eye to see 
the clearest testimonies in support of the Trinity 
of Persons in God, and the humanity of Christ; 
through the working of Satan, who is their God. 

To be brief; there is a twofold clearness in 
Scripture, even as there is also a twofold obscu 
rity: the one external, contained intheministeriality 
of the word ; the other internal, which consists in 
that knowledge which is of the heart. p If you speak 
of this internal clearness, no one discerns an iota 
of Scripture, but he who has the Spirit of God. All 
men have a darkened heart : so that, even though 
they should repeat and be able to quote every 
passage of Scripture, they neither understand nor 
truly know any thing that is contained in these 
passages ; nor do they believe that there is a God, 
pr that they are themselves God s creatures, or 
any thing else. According to what is written 
; in Psalm xiv. ; " The fool hath said in his heart, 
God is nothing." (Ps. xiv. 1.) For the Spirit 
is necessary to the understanding of the whole 
of Scripture, and of any part of it. But if you 
speak of that external clearness, nothing at all 

p Luther refers back to this passage in the progress of his 
work. (See below, Chap. ii. Sect, xiii.) It is not the public 
ministry of the word, but its instrumentality in general, of 
which he here .speaks. Scripture reveals truth to the ear, and 
reveals truth to the heart. The former of these he calls an 
external clearness. The word which falls upon the ear is a plain 
and clear word. The other he calls an internal clearness. The 
truth which is contained in Scripture, and conveyed by a clear 
and plain word, is understanded by the heart. 


has been left obscure, or ambiguous ; but every SECT. v. 

thing that is contained in the Scriptures has been ; 

drawn out into the most assured light, and de 
clared to the whole world, by the rninisteriality of 
the word. 

But it is still more intolerable, that you Freewill a 
should class this question of Freewill with those necessary 
which are useless and unnecessary, and should su je 
recount a number of articles to us in its stead, the 
reception of which you deem sufficient to con 
stitute a pious Christian. Assuredly, any Jew or 
Heathen, who had no knowledge at all of Christ, 
would find it easy enough to draw out such a pat 
tern of faith as yours. You do not mention Christ 
in a single jot of it ; as though you thought that 
Christian piety might subsist without Christ, if 
but God, whose nature is most merciful, be wor 
shipped with all our might. What shall I say 
here, Erasmus ? Your whole air is Lucian, and 
your breath a vast surfeit of Epicurus ? q If you 
account this question an unnecessary one for 
Christians, take yourself off the stage, pray : we 
account it necessary. 

If it be irreligious, if it be curious, if it be su 
perfluous, as you say it is, to know whether God 
foreknows any thing contingently ; whether our 
will be active in those things which pertain to 
everlasting salvation, or be merely passive, grace 
meanwhile being* the agent; whether we do by 
mere necessity (which we must rather call suffer) 
whatever we do of good or evil, what will then be 
religious I would ask ? what, important ? what, 
useful to be known? This is perfect trifling, 
Erasmus ! This is too much. Nor is it easy to 
attribute this conduct of yours to ignorance. An 
old man like you, who has lived amongst Chris 
tians and has long revolved the Scriptures, leaves 

i Totus Lucianum spiras et inhalas mihi grandem Epicuri 
crapulam . Luc. One of the most noted satirical blas 
phemers of Christianity : Epic, An atheistic heathen philo 
sopher^ who inculcated pleasure aud indifference. 


PART. I. us no place for excusing or thinking favourably of 

him. Yet the Papists pardon these strange things 

in you, and bear with you, because you are 
writing against Luther. Men who would tear you 
with their teeth, if Luther were out of the way 
and you should write such things ! Plato is my 
friend, Socrates is my friend, but I must honour 
truth before both. For although you knew but 
little about the Scriptures and about Christianity, 
even the enemy of Christians might surely have 
known what Christians account necessary and 
useful, and what they do not. But you, a theolo 
gian and a master of Christians, when setting 
about to prescribe a form of Christianity to them, 
do not, what might at least have been expected 
of you, hesitate after your usual sceptical manner, 
as to what is necessary and useful to them ; but 
glide into the directly opposite extreme, and 
in a manner contrary to your usual temper, by 
a sort of assertion never heard of before, sit now 
as judge, and pronounce those things to be unne 
cessary which, if they be not necessary and be not 
certainly known, there is neither a God, nor a 
Christ, nor a Gospel, nor a faith, nor any thing 
else even of Judaism, much less of Christianity, 
left behind. Immortal God ! what a window shall I 
say? what a field rather, does Erasmus hereby open 
for acting and speaking against himself! What 
could you possibly write on the subject of Free 
will, which should have any thing of good or right 
in it, when you betray such ignorance of Scripture 
and of piety, in these words of yours? But I will furl 
my sails, and will talk with you here, not in my 
own words, (as 1 perhaps shall do presently) but in 

SECT. vi. The form of Christianity chalked out by you 
has this article amongst others, that we must strive 

Erasmus s w ^h all our might; that we must apply ourselves 

Chris- . , , ^> r .r J 

tianity. to the remedy of repentance, and solicit the mercy 
of God by all means : without this mercy, nei 
ther the will, nor the endeavour of man, is effica- 


cious. Also, that no man should despair of SECT.VI. 

pardon from God, whose nature it is to be most 

merciful. These words of yours, in which there chrLT" 5 8 
is no mention of Christ, no mention of the Spirit; tianity. 
which are colder than ice itself, so that they have 
not even your wonted grace of eloquence in them; 
and which, perhaps, the fear of Priests and Kings r 
had hard work to wring from the pitiful fellow, 
that he might not appear quite an Atheist ; do 
nevertheless contain some assertions : as, that we 
have strength in ourselves; that there is such a 
thing as striving with all our strength ; that there 
is such a thing as God s mercy ; that there are 
means of soliciting mercy; that God is by nature 
just ; by nature most merciful, &c. &c. If then 
any one be ignorant, what those powers are, what 
they do, what they suffer, what their striving is, 
what its efficacy, and what its inefficacy; what 
shall he do ? what will you teach him to do ? It 
is irreligious, curious, and superfluous, you say, to 
wish to know whether our will be active in those 
things which pertain to everlasting salvation, or be 
only passive under the agency of grace. But here 
you say, on the contrary, that it is Christian piety 
to strive with all our might ; and that the will is 
not efficacious without the mercy of God. In these 
words, it is plain, you assert that the will does 
something in matters which appertain to everlast 
ing salvation, since you suppose it to strive ; on 
the other hand, you assert it to be passive, when 
you say that it is inefficacious without the mercy 
of God : howbeit, you do not explain how far that 
activity and that passiveness are to be understood 
to extend. Thus, you do what you can to make 

r Pont ificum et Tyrannorum.~] These names comprehend the 
whole tribe of Popes, Cardinals, and Princes, by which the 
ecclesiastical and civil power of the Roman empire was now 
administered. Pont. Priests of high dignity, generally ; not 
confined to the Pope, but including also his Cardinals. Tyran. 
The civil rulers throughout the empire : in Latin, used more 
generally in a bad sense, to denote usurped authority exer 
cised with fierceness and violence ; but not always. 


PART. i. us ignorant what is the efficacy of our own will 

" arid what the efficacy of the mercy of God,, in that 

very place in which you teach us what is the con 
joint efficacy of both. That prudence of yours, by 
which you have determined to keep clear of both 
parties, and to emerge in safety between Scylla 
and Charybdis, so whirls you round and round in 
its vortex; that, being overwhelmed with waves 
and confounded with fears a in the midst of the 
passage, you assert all that you deny, and deny 
all that you assert. 
SEC. vii. I will expose your theology to you, by two or 

three similes. What if a man, setting about to 

Erasmus s ma ke a good poem or speech, should not consider 
expose! by or inquire, of what sort his genius is ; what he is 
similies. equal to, and what not ; what the subject which 
he has taken in hand requires ; but, altogether 
neglecting that precept of Horace, what your 
shoulders are able to bear, and what is too heavy 
for them/ should only rush headlong upon his 
attempt to execute the work ; as thinking within 
himself, that he must try and get it done ; and that 
it would be superfluous and curious to inquire > 
whether he have the erudition, the powers of 
language, and the genius, which the task requires? 
What if a man, anxious to reap abundant fruits 
from his ground, should not be curious to exercise 
a superfluous care in exploring the nature of his 
soil, as Virgil in his Georgics curiously and 
vainly teaches us ; but should hurry on rashly, and 
having no thought but about finishing his work, 
should plough the shore, and cast in his seed 
wherever there is an open space, whether it be 
sand or mud ? What if a man, going to war and 
desirous of a splendid victory, or having some 
other service to perform for the state, should not be 
curious to consider what he is able to effect ; whe 
ther his treasury be rich enough, whether his sol" 
diers be expert, whether he have any power to exe- 

8 Confusus, expresses the state of the mariner s mind.:J}actibits 
obrutus, his drowning body. 


cute his design; but should altogether despise that SEC. vn. 

precept of the historian, before you act, there is 

need of deliberation, when you have deliberated, J^ 115 8 
you must be quick to execute; and should rush on, exposed by 
with his eyes shut and his ears stopped, crying out similies - 
nothing but " war " "war," and vehemently pursu 
ing his work? What judgment would you pro 
nounce, Erasmus, upon such poets, husbandmen, 
generals, and statesmen ? I will add that simile in 
the Gospel. If any man, going about to build a 
tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, 
whether he hath wherewithal to finish it ; what is 
Christ s judgment upon that man ? 

Thus, you command us only to work, au(l forbid 
us first of all to explore and measure, or ascer 
tain our strength, what we can do, and what we can 
not do ; as though this were curious, unnecessary 
and irreligious. The effect of which is, that, whilst 
through excessive prudence you deprecate teme 
rity, and make a shew * of sober-mindedness, you 
come at last to the extreme of even counselling 
the greatest temerity. For, although the Sophists 
act rashness and insanity, by discussing curious u 
subjects, yet is their offence milder than yours; 
who even teach and command men to be mad and 
rash. To make this insanity still greater, you 
persuade us that this temerity is most beautiful ; 
that it is Christian piety, sobriety, religious gra 
vity, and soundness of mind. Nay, if we do not 
act it, you, who are such an enemy to assertions, 
assert that we are irreligious, curious, and vain : v 
so beautifully have you escaped your Scylla, whilst 
you have avoided your Charybdis. It is your con- 

1 Detestaris, prcetendisJ] Detest, deprecari, amoliri, avertere, 
deos invocando. Pra-ttnd., to put forwards as a reason for act 
ing, whether truly or falsely. ; 

u CwrioA-a.] Applied in a bad sense to things we have no busi 
ness with, curionns dicitur nonnunquam de iis qui nimia cur 
utuntur in rebus alienis exquirendis. 

v Vanos answers to supervacaneos used above, expressing their 
unprofitableness; idle speculators. 


PART. I. fidence in your own talents which drives you to 

this point. You think you can impose upon men s 

minds by your eloquence, to such a degree, that 
no man shall be able to perceive what a monster 
you are cherishing in your bosom, and what an 
object you are labouring to achieve by these slip 
pery writings of yours. But " God is not 
mocked ;" nor is it good for a man to strike upon 
such a rock as HIM. 

Besides, if you had taught us this rashness in 
making poems, in procuring the fruits of the earth, 
in conducting wars and civil employments, or in 
building houses ; though it would be intolerable, 
especially in a man like yourself, you would after 
all have deserved some indulgence from Chris 
tians at least, who despise temporal things. But, 
when you command even Christians to be these rash 
workmen, and, in the very matter of their eternal 
salvation, insist upon their being incurious as to 
their natural powers, what they can do and what 
they cannot do ; this, surely, is an offence which 
cannot be pardoned. For, they will not know 
what they are doing, so long as they are ignorant 
what, and how much they can do ; and if they 
know not what they are doing, they cannot pos 
sibly repent should they be in error; and impeni 
tence is an unpardonable sin. To such an abyss, 
does that moderate, sceptical theology of yours 
conduct us ! 
SEC. VIIL It is not irreligious, then, nor curious, nor 

superfluous, but most of all useful and necessary 

Absolute to a Christian, to know whether the will does any 
"f IhTsub- thing, or nothing, in the matter of salvation. Nay, 
ject of to say the truth, this is the very hinge of our dis- 
order"!! m P u tation ; the very question at issue turns upon 
true piety. it. x We are occupied in discussing, what the free 

will does, what the free will suffers, what is its 

x Status causce hujus. ] Status a rhetoribus dicitur qutestio, 
quae ex prima causarum conflictione nascitur ; quia in eo tota 
causa stat et consistit. 


proportion to the grace of God. If we be igno- SEC.VIII. 

rant of these things, we shall know nothing at 

all about Christianity, and shall be worse than Absolu . te 

/ f ncccssitv 

Heathens. The man who does not understand O f the sub- 
this subject, let him acknowledge that. he is no J ect f 

c\\ -A- >n 1 i " -A Freewill in 

Christian. Ine man who censures or despises it, order to 
let him know that he is the worst enemy of Chris- true 
tians. For, if I know not, what, how far, and how< piety 
much, I can, of my own natural powers, do and 
effect towards God; it will be alike uncertain and 
unknown to me, what, how far, and how much, God 
can and does effect in me: whereas God "worketh \ 
all in all !" y 

Again ; if I know not the works and power of 
God, I know not God himself; and if I know not 
God, I cannot worship, praise, give him thanks, 
serve him; being ignorant how much I ought to 
attribute to myself, and how much to God. We 1 ; 
ought therefore to distinguish, with the greatest 1 
clearness, between God s power and our own 
power, between God s work and our own work; ii 
we would live piously. 

You see then, that this question is the . one 
part z of the whole sum of Christianity ! Both the 
knowledge of ourselves, and the knowledge and 
glory of God, are dependent upon the hazard of 
its decision. It is insufferable in you, then, my 
Erasmus, to call the knowledge of this truth irreli 
gious, curious and vain. We owe much to you, 
But we owe all to piety. Nay, you think yourself, 
that all good is to be ascribed to God, and you 
assert this in the description you have given us: of 
your own Christianity. And if you assert this, 
you unquestionably assert in the same words that 

y Omnla in OJnhifctw.] Not only all things in all men ; but 
all things in all tilings i every jot and tittle in every single thing 
that is done. 

z Partem alterant. ~] Opposed to altera pars in the next 
section : considering the sum of Christian doctrine, as divisible 
into these two integral parts. 


PART I. the mercy of God does all, and that our will acts 
- nothing, but rather is acted upon ; else, all will 
not be attributed to God. But, a little while after 
you declare, that the assertion, and even the know 
ledge of this truth, is neither religious, pious, nor 
/salutary. However, the mind which is inconsis 
tent with itself, and which is uncertain and an- 
* skilled in matters of piety, is obliged to speak so. 
SECT.IX. The other part of the sum of Christianity, /is to 
know whether God foreknows any thing c^ntin- 
ff en tfy> an( ^ whether we do every thing tteces- 


ted the sarily. This part also you represent as irreligious, 
question of curious, and vain ; as all other profane men do. 
1 C ~ Nay, the devils and the damned represent 5t as 
utterly odious and detestable : and you are very 
wise in withdrawing yourself from these questions, 
if you may be allowed to do so. But, in the mean 
time, you are not much of a rhetorician or a theo 
logian, when you presume to speak and to teach 
about Freewill, without these parts. I will be 
your whetstone; and, though no rhetorician my 
self, will remind an exquisite rhetorician of his 
duty. If Quintilian proposing to write on ora 
tory should say, In my judgment those foolish 
and useless topics of invention, distribution, elo 
cution, memory, and delivery should be omitted; 
suffice it to know that oratory is the art of speak 
ing well ; would not you laugh at the artist? This 
is precisely your method. Professing to write about 
Freewill, you begin with driving away, and casting 
off, the whole body, and all the members of this 
art, which you propose to write about. For, it is 
impossible that you should understand what Free 
will is, until you know what the human will has 
power to do, and what God does; whether he 
foreknows, or not ? a 

a An pra>sciat.~\ The Newstadt editor inserts the word neces- 
sariu here. It is not needed. What is foreknowledge, if it be 
not absolute ; i.e. if the event be not inevitable, or necessary ? 


Do not even your rhetoricians teach you, that, SECT.IX. 
when a man is going to speak upon any matter, 

he must first speak to the point whether there be 

, i -j -j " as 

such a thing, or no ; then, what it is ; what are its ted the 

parts ; what its contraries, its affinities, and question of 
its similitudes. But you strip poor Freewill, 
wretched as she is in herself, of all these appendages, 
and define b none of the questions which apper 
tain to her, save the first; whether there be such a 
thing as Freewill? By what sort of arguments you 
do this, we shall see presently. A more foolish 
book on Freewill I never beheld, if eloquence of 
style be excepted. The Sophists, forsooth, who 
know nothing of rhetoric, have here at least 
proved better logicians than you ; for in their 
essays on Freewill they define all its questions ; 
such as, whether it be ; what it is; what it 
does ; c how it is/ &c. &c. Howbeit, neither do 
even they complete c what they attempt. I will 
therefore goad d both you and all the Sophists in 
this treatise of mine, until ye define the powers 
and the performances of Freewill 6 to me; yea, 

b Dffinis. ] Def. does not express simply what we understand and 
mean by a definition ; but a laying out of the subject matter 
of debate in propositions, and a supporting of those proposi 
tions by argument . Such were Luther s several Theses ; with 
ninety-five of which, he first opened his attack upon the Pope- 
dom ; or rather upon the doctrine of Indulgences : a form of 
discussion common in those times. Perhaps our English word 
determine comes nearest to it. 

c Efficiunt quod tcntantJ] They do not go through with the 

matter in hand, but leave it short : the vires et opera are still 

undefined 5 neither distinctly affirmed, nor satisfactorily proved. 

d Urgebo.~\ Driving, as you would drive cattle, or an 

enemy, before you. 

e Liberi arbitrii vires et opera. ~\ Foluntas is the faculty of the 
will at large. Arbitrium, the essence, spirit, power of that 
faculty. Erasmus maintains this power to be free ; Luther, that it 
is in bondage. Hence liberum arbitrium, servum arbitrium. 
I is, or vires arbitrii, the power or powers of this power. Vis, 
or vires liberi arbitrii ; the power or powers of this power, as 
declared by Erasmus to be free ; and so, just corresponds with 
jur idea and term of Freewill. You shall define to me, what 



ART I. so goad you, with Christ s help, that I hope 1 

- shall make you repent of having published your 

SECT.X. It is most necessary and most salutary, then, 

- for a Christian to know this also ; that God fore- 
God s fore- knows nothing contingently, but foresees, and pur- 

knowledge TI J ,, / 

absolute, poses, and accomplishes every thing, by an un- 
ws from changeable, eternal, and infallible will. But, by 
this thunderbolt, Freewill is struck to the earth and 
completely ground to powder. Those who would 
assert Freewill, therefore, must either deny, or 
disguise, or, by some other means, repel this thun 
derbolt from them. However, before I establish it 
by my own argumentation and the authority of 
Scripture, I will first of all encounter you per 
sonally, with your own words. Are not you that 
Erasmus, who just now asserted, that it is God s na 
ture to be just, that it is God s nature to be most 
merciful? If this be true, does it not follow, that 
he is UNCHANGEABLY just and merciful ; that, as 
his nature changes not unto eternity, so neither 
doth his justice or his mercy change ? But 
what is said of his justice and mercy, must he 
said also of his knowledge, wisdom, goodness, 
will, and other divine properties. If these things, 
then, be asserted religiously, piously, and profit 
ably concerning God, as you write ; what has 
happened to you, that, in disagreement with your 
self, you now assert it to be irreligious, curious, 
and vain, to affirm that God foreknows necessarily? 
<Is it that you think, that, he either foreknoivs 
j what he does not toill, or wills what he does not 
^foreknow ? If he wills what he foreknows, his 
will is eternal and immutable, for it is part of his 
nature : if he foreknows what he wills, his know- 

are the powers of this faculty, which is thus supposed and main 
tained by you to be free. This is just the crux of modern Free- 
willers, as it was of Erasmus. They get on pretty well, till 
they are compelled to define. 


ledge is eternal and immutable, for it is part of liis SECT. x. 

Hence it irresistibly follows, that all which we 
do, and all which happens, although it seem to 
happen mutably and contingently, does in reality 
happen necessarily and unalterably, insofar as 
respects the will of God. For the will of God is 
efficacious, and such as cannot be thwarted ; since 
the power of God is itself a part of his nature : it 
is also wise, so that it cannot be misled. And 
since his will is not thwarted, the work which 
he wills cannot be prevented ; but must be pro 
duced in the very place, time, and measure which 
he himself both foresees and wills. If the will of 
God were such as to cease after he has made a 
work which remains the same, as is the case with 
man s will when, after having builded a house as 
he willed, his will concerning it ceases; as it 
| does in death; then it might be truly said, that 
some events are brought to pass contingently and 
mutably. But here, on the contrary, so far is it 
from being the case, that the work itself either 
comes into existence, or continues in existence 
contingently, by being made and remaining in 
being when the will to have it so hath ceased; 
that the work itself ceases, but the will remains. 
,Now, if we would use words so as not to abuse 
them, a work is said in Latin to be done contin 
gently, but is never said to be itself contingent. 



f This abstruse but irresistible deduction from Erasmus s 
Concession may perhaps be stated a little more familiarly, thus: 
If Cod does not foreknow all events absolutely, there must be 
:\ defect either in his will, or in his knowledge ; what happens 
.must either be against his will, or beside his knowledge. Either 
he meant otherwise than the event, or had no meaning at all 
about the event ; or, lie foresaw another event, or did not 
foresee any event at all. But the truth is, what he willed in 
past eternity, he wills now ; the thing now executed is what 
he has intended to execute from everlasting ; for his will is 
eternal : just as the thing which has now happened is what he 
>aw in past eternity ; because his knowledge is eternal. 





to term 
admitted : 
of the dis 
of a con 
and of a 


The meaning is, that a work has been performed 
by a contingent and mutable will ; such as is not 
in God. Besides, a work cannot be called a con 
tingent one, except it be done by us contingently 
and .as it were by accident, without any fore 
thought on our part; being so called, because our 
will or hand seizes hold of it as a thing thrown in 
our way by accident, and we have neither thought 
nor willed any thing about it before. 

* I could have wished indeed, that another and a 
better word had been introduced into our dis 
putation than this usual one, ( Necessity ; which 
is not rightly applied to the will of either God or 
man. It has too harsh and incongruous a mean 
ing for this occasion ; suggesting the notion of 
something like compulsion, and what is at least 
the opposite of willingness, to the mind. Our 
question, meanwhile, implies no such thing ; for 
both God s will, and man s will does what it does, 
whether good or bad, without compulsion, by dint 
of mere good pleasure or desire, as with perfect 
freedom. The will of God, nevertheless, is im 
mutable and infallible, and governs our mutable 
will as JBoethius sings, and standing fixed, 
mov st all the rest and our will, wicked in the 
extreme, can of itself do nothing good. Let the 
understanding of my reader, then, supply what the 
word ( necessity does not express; apprehending 
by it, what you might choose to call the immutability 
of God s will, and the impotency of our evil will : 
what some have called a necessity of immuta 
bility : not very grammatically or theologically. 

The Sophists, who had laboured this point for 
years, have at length been mastered, and are com 
pelled to admit that all events are necessary ; 
but by the necessity of a consequence, as they say, 
and not by the necessity of a consequent. Thus 
have they eluded the violence of this question, but 

* N. B. This whole paragraph is omitted in the Nieustadt 
edition of 1591. 


it is by much more illuding themselves. 5 I will SECT.XI. 

take the trouble of shewing you, what a mere no 

thing 1 this distinction of theirs is. By necessity of a 
consequence (to speak as these thick-headed people 
do) they mean, that, if God wills a thing, the thing 
itself must be, but it is not necessary that the very 
thing which is, should be. For only God exists neces 
sarily ; all other things may cease to be, if God 
pleases. Thus they say that the act of God is neces 
sary, if he wills a thing, but that the very thing pro 
duced is not necessary. Now what do they get by 
this play upon words ? Why, this, I suppose. The 
thing produced is not necessary ; that is, has not 
a necessary existence this is no more than say 
ing, the thing produced is not God himself. Still 
the truth remains, that every event is necessary; 
if it be a necessary act of God, or a necessary 
consequence : however it may not, now that it is 
effected, exist necessarily; that is, may not be 
God, or may not have a necessary existence. For, 
if I am of necessity made, it is of little moment to 
me that my being or making be mutable. Still 
I this contingent and mutable thing, who am not 
the necessary God am made. So that their 
foolery, that all events are necessary, through a 
necessity of the consequence, but not through a 
necessity of the consequent, has no more in it than 
this : all events are necessary, it is true ; but 
though necessary, are not God himself. Now 
what need was there to tell us this? As if there 
was any danger of our asserting that the things 

8 Eluserant, illnscrunt. ] A play upon the words eludo, illiido. 
Elud. to parry ff, evade. A metaphor taken from the 
gladiator, who, by a dexterous turn of his body, escapes the 
weapon of his adversary. I do not find any classical authority 
for understanding illudo with the same reference to the 
gladiator. It refers to customs of a more general nature ; 
comprehending all sorts of injury inflicted in a way of decep 
tion, or derision : to sport with, or make sport of ; some 
times to ruin in sport. Thus these Sophists have evaded 
their adversaries, but they have made fools of themselves. 



PART I. made are God, or have a divine and necessary 
- nature. So sure and stedfast is the invincible 
aphorism, All things are brought to pass by the 
unchangeable will of God : what they call 
6 necessity of a consequence/ Nor is there any 
obscurity or ambiguity here. He says in Isaiah 
" My counsel shall stand " and my will shall be 
brought to pass. (Isa. xlvi. 10.) Is there any 
schoolboy who does not understand what is meant 
by these words ( counsel, ivill, brought to pass, 

SEC. xii. But why should these things be shut up from us 
Christians, so that it is irreligious, and curious, and 


U rev V alence Va ^ U ^ Or US ^ searcn an( ^ to loiOVV them ; when 

of this per- heathen poets, and the very vulgar, are wearing 
them threadbare, by the commonest use of them in 
conversation? How often does the single poet 
Virgil make mention of fate ! All things subsist 
by a fixed law/ Every man has his day fixed/ 
Again, ( If the fates call you/ Again, f If you 
can by any means burst the bonds of the cruel 
fates/ It is this poet s sole object to shew, that 
in the destruction of Troy and the raising up of 
the Roman empire from its ruins, fate did more 
than all human efforts put together. In short, he 
subjects his immortal Gods to fate; making even 
Jupiter himself and Juno to yield to it necessarily. 
Hence they feigned these three fatal sisters, the 
Parcas; whom they represent as immutable, im 
placable, inexorable. 

Those wise men discovered (what fact and ex 
perience prove) that no man has ever yet received 
the accomplishment of his own counsels, but all 
have had to meet events which differed from their 
expectations. 4 If Troy could have been defended 
by a human right hand, it had been defended even 
by this/ says Virgil s Hector. Hence that most 
hackneyed expression in everybody s mouth, 
God s will be done/ Again, f If it please God, 
we w r ill do so/ Again, So God would have it/ 


So it seemed good to those above. f So ye SEC.XIII. 
would have it/ saysVmriL So that, in the minds of 

*> .-.- 

the common people, the knowledge of the predes 
tination and foreknowledge of God is not less in 
herent, we perceive, than the very notion that 
there is a God : although blessed Augustine, with 
good reason, condemns fate ; speaking of the fate 
which is maintained by the Stoics. But those 
who professed to be wise went to such lengths in 
their disputations, that, at last, their heart being 
darkened they became foolish, (Rom. i. 22.) and 
denied or dissembled those things which the poets, 
and the vulgar, and their own consciences, account 
most common, most certain, and most true. 

I go further, and declare, not only how true these The ex- 
things are (of which I shall hereafter speak more 
at large from the Scriptures) but also how reli- 
gious, pious, and necessary it is to know them. 
For if these things be not known, it is impossible pretended 
that either faith or any worship of God should be and boast- 
maintained. For this would be a real ignorance tk>n" C 
of God ; with which salvation cannot consist; as 
is notorious. For if you either doubt this truth, < 
or despise the knowledge of it, that God fore 
knows and wills all things ; not contingently, but 
necessarily and immutably ; how will you be 
able to believe his promises, and with full as- \ 
surance to trust and lean upon them ? For, when 
he promises, you ought to be sure that he knows 
what he promises, and is able and willing to ac 
complish it : else you will account him neither 
true nor faithful ; which is unbelief, the highest 
impiety, and a denial of the most high God. 

But how will you be confident and secure, if you 
do not know that he certainly, infallibly, un 
changeably, and necessarily knows and wills, and 
will perform what he promises ? Nor should we 
only be certain, that God necessarily and immu 
tably wills and will perform what he has promised; 


PARTI, but we should even glory in this very thing, as 
Paul does in Romans iii. saying, " But let God 
be true and every man a liar." (Rom. iii. 4.) And 
again, " Not that the word of God hath been of 
none effect/ (Rom. ix. 6.) And in another place, 
" The foundation of God standeth sure, having 
this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." 
(2 Tim. ii. 19.) And in Titus i. " which God who 
cannot lie hath promised before the world began." 
(Tit. i. 2.) And in Hebrews xi. " He that cometh 
to God must believe that God is, and that he is a 
rewarder of them that hope in him." (Heb. xi. 6.) 
So then, the Christian faith is altogether ex 
tinguished, the promises of God and the whole 
Gospel fall absolutely to the ground, if we be 
taught and believe, that we have no need to know 
that the foreknowledge of God is necessary, and 
that all acts and events are necessary. For this 
is the alone and highest possible consolation of 
Christians, in all adversities, to know that God 
does not lie, but brings all things to pass without 
any possibility of change ; and that his will can 
neither be resisted, nor altered, nor hindered. See 
now, my Erasmus, whither this most abstinent 
and peace-loving theology of yours leads us ! 
You call us off from endeavouring, nay forbid that 
we endeavour, to learn the foreknowledge of God 
and necessity, in their influence upon men and 
things ; you counsel us to abandon such topics, 
to avoid and to hold them in abhorrence. By this 
ill-advised labour of yours, you at the same time 
teach us to cultivate an ignorance of God, (what 
in fact comes of itself, and even grows to us h ) to 
despise faith, to forsake God s promises, and to 
set at nought all the consolations of the Spirit 

h AgnataJ] f What grows to us as a sort of monstrous ap 
pendage; like the membra agnata et agnasccntia in animals ; 
parts that are more than should be by nature ; as a sixth 
finger, &c. 


and the assurances of our own conscience. In- SEC.XIII. 
junctions these, which scarcely Epicurus himself 
would lay upon us ! 

Not content with this, you go on to call that 
man irreligious, curious, and vain who takes pains 
to get the knowledge of these things ; you call 
that man religious, pious, and sober who despises 
them. What else do you achieve then by these 
words, but that Christians are curious, vain, and 
irreligious ; and that Christianity is a thing of no 
moment at all ; vain, foolish, and absolutely im 
pious. Thus it happens again, that whilst you 
would, above all things, deter us from rashness, 
being hurried, as fools usually are, into the oppo 
site extreme, you teach us nothing but the most 
excessive temerities and impieties, which must 
lead us to destruction. Are you aware that your 
book is, in this part, so impious, so blasphemous, 
and so sacrilegious, as no where to have its 

I speak not of your intention, as I have already 
said, for I do not think you so abandoned as to 
wish, from your heart, either to teach these things, 
or to see them practised by others ; but I would 
shew you what strange things a man obliges him 
self to babble, without knowing what he says, 
when he undertakes a bad cause. I would shew 
you also, what it is to strike our foot against divine 
truth and the divine word, whilst we personate a 
character in compliance with the wishes of others, 
and, with many qualms of conscience, bustle 
through a scene, in which we have no just call to 
appear. 1 It is not a play or a pastime to teach 

1 Aliorum obsequio."] Erasmus was a. forced champion, writ 
ing to please the Pope and his party, at their special request. 
Personam sumirnus. He did not really stand in his own person, 
but was an actor sustaining a part which had been put upon 
him. Alienee scentz servire expresses the drudgery of labouring 
through a character in which he had made himself a volunteer. 
Scena servire sometimes signifies to temporize ; but here I 
prefer retaining the original figure.~-This is one of the poi- 


PARTI, theology and piety ; in such an employment it is 
most easy to make that sort of fall which James 
speaks of, k when he says,, " He that oftendeth in 
one point becomes guilty of all." (Jam. ii. 10.) 
For thus it comes to pass, that, whilst we think we 
mean to trifle but a little, having lost our due re 
verence for the Scriptures, we soon get entangled 
in impieties, and are plunged over head and ears 
in blasphemies. Just what has happened to you 
in this case, Erasmus ! May the Lord pardon 
and have mercy on you ! 

As to the fact, that the Sophists have raised such 
swarms of questions on these subjects, and have 
mixed a multitude of other unprofitable matters 
with them, such as you mention ; I am aware of 
this, and acknowledge it as well as you, and have 
inveighed against it with yet more sharpness, 
and at greater length, than you. But you are 
foolish and rash in mixing, confounding, and assi 
milating the purity of sacred truth with the pro 
fane and foolish questions of ungodly men. They 
have defiled the gold and changed its beautiful 
colour, as Jeremiah says, (Lam. v. 1.) but gold is 
not forthwith to be compared to dung and thrown 
away together with it ; as you have done. The 
gold must be recovered out of their hands, and 

soncd arrows of Luther s treatise j u hireling expectant, with 
only half his heart in the cause. 

k A forced application of James s words ; who speaks of a 
breach of one commandment as subjecting us to the curse of 
all, because such breach is derogatory to the authority of the 
Lawgiver. We set ourselves up against the Lawgiver, and 
impugn his authority by a single wilful breach of a single com 
mandment, with guilt of the same quality, though not of the 
same extent and aggravation, as if we brake all. Luther ap 
plies it to Erasmus s only meaning to have a little sport ; but 
then it is at the expense of Scripture : and such sport, and even 
the intention of such sport, implies a want of due reverence 
for Scripture. This first fault leads to all the impiety which 
follows ; and therefore he who is guilty of it, is guilty of all 
the impieties which follow, though he did not set out with the 
intention of committing them. Guilty of all/ because one 
leads to all ; is the seed of all. This is not James s meaning. 


the purity of Scripture separated from their dregs SEC.XIV. 
and filth : and I have always been aiming to do 
this ; in order that one sort of regard might be 
paid to the divine word, and another to their 
trifling conceits. Nor should it move us, that no 
other_advantage has been gained by these ques 
tions, than that, with great expense of concord, 
\\ r have come to love less, whilst we are far too 
eager to get wisdom. It is not our question, what 
advantage disputatious Sophists have gained ; but 
how we may ourselves become good Christians : 
nor ought you to impute to Christian doctrine what 
ungodly men do amiss. For this is nothing to the 
purpose, and you might have spoken of it in ano 
ther place, and have spared your paper. 

In your third chapter, you go on to make us AH Scrip- 
these modest and quiet Epicureans by another Mretruth 
sort of counsel, not a whit sounder than the two published 
already mentioned : viz. that some propositions 
are of such a nature, that even though they were 
true and could be ascertained, still it would not be 
expedient to publish them promiscuously. 1 Here 
again, you confound and mix things, as your cus 
tom is, that you may degrade what is sacred to 
the level of the profane, without allowing the least 
difference between them ; and again fall into an 
injurious contempt of God and his word. I have 
said before, what is either plainly declared in 
Scripture, or may be proved from it, is not only 
open to view, but salutary ; and therefore may be 
with safety published, learned, and known; nay, 
ought to be so. With what truth, then, can you 
say, that there are things which ought not to be 
published promiscuously, if you speak of things 
contained in Scripture ? If you speak of other 
things, nothing that you have said concerns us ; 
all is out of place, and you have wasted your 

1 Prosiitucre promiscuis auribits. ] Prostit. publicare/ diffa- 
mare, (pro, sive prce, statuo.) Promise. confusus $ hence, 
general/ common. 


PART I. paper and your time in words. Again, you know 

that I have no agreement, upon any subject, with 

the Sophists; so that I deserved to have been 
spared by you, and not to have had their abuses 
cast in my teeth. It was against me that you 
were to write in this book. I know how guilty the 
Sophists are, and don t want you to teach me, 
having already reprehended them abundantly : 
and this I say, once for all, as often as you con 
found me with the Sophists, and load my cause 
with their mad sayings. You act unfairly by me 
in so doing, and you very well know it. 

SEC. xv. Let us now look into the reasons on which you 

build your counsel. Though it should be true, 

Theargu- that God is essentially present in the beetle s 
"some cave, and even in the common sewer, no less than 
truths in heaven (which reverence forbids you to assert 

an< ^ y ou blame the Sophists for babbling so); 
is still, you think it Avould be irrational to maintain 
either in- such a proposition before the multitude. 
with Eras- I* 1 the first place, babble who may, we are nottalk- 
mus s act, i n g here about the actions of men, but about law and 
place* right ; not how we live, but how we ought to live ! 
Which of us lives and acts rightly in all cases? 
Law and precept are not condemned on this ac 
count, but rather we by them. The truth is, you 
fetch these materials of yours, which are foreign 
to the subject, from a great distance, and scrape 
many things together from all sides of you, be 
cause this one topic of the foreknowledge of God 
gravels you ; and, having no arguments to over 
come it with, you try to weary your reader by a 
profusion of empty words, before you conclude. 
But we will let this pass, and return to our subject. 
Then how do you mean to apply this judgment 
of yours, that there are some truths which ought 
not to be proclaimed to the vulgar ? Is Freewill 
one of these? If so, all that I said before, about 
the necessity of understanding Freewill, returns 
upon you. Besides, why do you not follow your 


own counsel, and withhold your Diatribe? If- you SEC.XVI. 

are right in discussing Freewill, why do you find 

fault? if it be wrong to so do, why do you discuss 
it? On the other hand, if Freewill be not one of 
these subjects, you are again guilty of running 
away from the point at issue, in the midst of the 
discussion, and of handling foreign topics with great 
verbosity, where there is no place for them. 

Not that you deal correctly with the example Erasmus s 
which you adduce, when you condemn it as an amplest 
useless discussion for the multitude, that God is truths not; 
in the cave, or in the sewer/ You think of God v^ e d pub " 
too humanly. I acknowledge, indeed, that there 
are some frivolous preachers, who, having neither 
religion nor piety, and being moved solely by a 
desire of glory, or an ambition of novelty, or an 
impatience of silence, gabble and trifle with the 
most offensive levity. But these men please nei 
ther God nor man, though they be engaged in 
asserting that God is in the heaven of heavens. 
On the contrary, where the preacher is grave and 
pipuS; and teaches in modest, pure, and sound 
words; such a man will declare such a truth be 
fore the multitude, not only without danger, but 
even with great profit. Ought we not all to teach 
that the Son of God was in the womb of the 
Virgin, and born from her bowels ? And what 
difference is there between the bowels of a wo 
man and any other filthy place? Who could not 
describe them nastily and offensively? Yet we 
should deservedly condemn such describers, be 
cause there is an abundance of pure words to ex 
press this substance, of which it has become ne 
cessary to speak, 1 " with beauty and grace. Christ s 
own body, again, was human like our own. And 
what is filthier than this ? Shall we therefore for 
bear to say that God dwelt in him BODILY, as 

m Earn ncccssitatem. 


PART. i. Paul speaks? 11 (Coloss. ii. 9.) What is more 

disgusting than death ? What more horrible than 

hell ? But the Prophet glories that God is with 
him in death and in hell. (Psa. xxiii.) 

The pious mind then does not shudder to hear 
that God is in death or in hell ; each of which is 
more horrible than the cave or the sewer : nay, 
since Scripture testifies that God is every where, 
and fills all things, not only does such a mind 
affirm that he is in those places, but will, as 
matter of necessity, learn and know that he is 
there. Unless, perchance, if I should somehow 
be seized by a tyrant, and cast into a prison or a 
common sewer, which has been the lot of many 
saints, I must not be allowed to invoke my God 
there ; or to believe that he is present with me, 
until I shall have come into some ornamented 
temple! If you teach us that we ought to trifle 
in this way about God, and are so offended with 
the abiding places of his essence, you will, at 
length, not allow us to consider him as abiding 
even in heaven : for not even the heaven of hea 
vens contains him, or is worthy to do so. But 
the truth is, you sting with so much venom, as 
your manner is, that you may sink our cause, and 
make it hateful, because you see it to be insuper 
able and invincible, by powers such as yours. 

The second instance which you adduce, ( that 
there are three Gods/ is, I confess, a stumbling- 
block, if it be indeed taught : nor is it true, nor 
does Scripture teach it. The Sophists, indeed, 
speak so ; and have invented a new sort of logic. 
But what is that to us ? 

n I would crave the reader s particular attention to this de 
scription of the human body of the Lord Jesus Christ ; that part 
of his frame which alone connected him and did really con 
nect him with the damned substance of his people. It enters 
into the very entrails of the mystery of godliness. 

Sic odiose pungis. ] Pmtg. cuspide vel aculeo ictum 


With respect to your third and remaining SEC.XVI. 

example of confession and satisfaction, it is won- 

derful with how happy a dexterity you contrive to 
find fault: every where, as you are wont, just 
skimming the surface of the subject, and no more, 
lest you should appear, either, on the one hand, 
not simply to condemn our writings, or, on the 
other, not to be disgusted with the tyranny of the 
pontiffs : p a failure in either of which points would 
be by no means safe for you. So, bidding adieu, 
for a little while, to conscience and to Cod, (for 
what has Erasmus to do with the will of the latter 
and the obligations of the former, in these mat 
ters?) you draw your sword upon a mere out 
side phantom, and accuse the common people of 
abusing the preaching of free confession and 
satisfaction, 4 as their own evil nature may incline 
them, to the indulgence of the flesh; maintaining, 
that by necessary confession they are, some how 
or other, restrained. O famous and exquisite 
harangue ! Is this teaching theology? To bind 
with law s and kill, as Ezekiel says, (xxiii. 
xiii. 19.) the souls which God has not bound. At 
this rate, you stir up the whole tyranny of the 
Popish laws against us forsooth, on the ground 
of their being useful and salutary ; because by 
them also the wickedness of the people is re 
strained ! 

But I am unwilling to inveigh against you, as 
this passage deserves. I will state the matter as 
it is, concisely. A good theologian teaches thus : 
the common people are to be restrained by the 


p Ponti/icnm tyrannidem offendere. ] Offend. aversari, offendi, 
molestiam capere ; quasi impingere, incurrere in illiquid, 
quod displiceat. Another poisoned arrow. Whilst lie keeps 
no terms with Luther, he must still be the friend of liberty. 
He had gone far in satirizing the reigning abuses. But how 
galling the exposure ! 

q Free.] That is, preaching that these are free ; that men 
may observe or neglect them, according to their own indivi 
dual conscience. 


PART i. external force of the sword, when they do amiss, 
as Paul teaches (Rom. xiii. 1 4.); but their con 
sciences are not to be ensnared by false laws, 
teasing and tormenting them for sins which God 
does not account sins. For the conscience is 
bound only by the commands of God; so that 
this interposed tyranny of the pontiffs, which 
falsely terrifies and kills souls inwardly, whilst it, 
to no purpose, harasses the body without, should 
be entirely taken out of the way. This tyranny 
does, indeed, compel men to outward acts of con 
fession, and to other burdens, but the mind is not 
restrained by these things : rather, it is exaspe 
rated to an hatred of God and of man. It hangs, 
draws, and quarters the body outwardly, without 
effect, making mere hypocrites within ; insomuch, 
that the tyrants who enact and execute laws of 
this sort are nothing else but rapacious wolves, 
thieves, and robbers of souls. These wolves and 
robbers, O most excellent counsellor of souls, thou 
commendest to us again. In other words, thou 
proposest the most cruel of soul-slayers to our 
acceptance; who will fill the world with hypo 
crites, blaspheming God, and despising him in 
their hearts ; in order that men may be a little 
restrained in their outward carriage : as if there 
were not another method of restraining, which 
makes no hypocrites, and is obtained without de 
stroying any man s conscience ; r as I have said, 
sc. xvii. Here you fetch in s a host of similes ; in which 
you aim to abound, and to be thought very apt 
- an( * expert. You tell us, forsooth, that there are 

r Consul, auctor, refer to the customs of the Roman Repub 
lic, of which the consul was the guardian and adviser : he was 
the author, or originater of measures. 

s Allegas, afferre aliquid probandi vel excusandi gratia. 
A forensic expression ; these were his witnesses : but what did 
, they prove ? only, what a clever fellow this Erasmus is. Illus 
tration is not argument ; but here it is manifestly a substitute 
for it. He amuses, imposes, irritates, and bewilders by his 
similies, because he has nothing solid wherewith to answer. 


some diseases which are borne with less evil than sc. xvn. 

they are removed withal ; such as the leprosy 

and others. You also add the example of Paul, deistands 
who distinguished between things lawful and t he vast 
things expedient. A man may lawfully speak the 
truth, you say ; to any body, at any time, in any 
way he pleases ; but it is not expedient for him to tion. 
do so. 

What an exuberant orator ! but one who does 
not at all know what he is saying. In a word, 
you plead this cause as if your affair with me were 
a contest for a sum of money which is recoverable, 
or for some other very inconsiderable object: whose 
loss (as being a thing of far less value than that dear 
external peace of yours) ought riot to move any one 
to such a degree that he be unwilling to submit, do, 
and suffer, as the occasion may require; or to 
render it necessary that the world be thrown into 
such a tumult. % You plainly intimate, therefore, 
that this peace and tranquillity of the flesh is far 
more excellent in your eyes than faith, conscience, 
salvation, the word of God, the glory of Christ, 
yea, God himself. I declare to you, therefore, 
and entreat you to lay this up in your inmost 
soul, that I, for iny part, am in pursuit of a se 
rious, necessary, and eternal object in this cause ; 
such and so great an object, that I must assert and 
defend it, even at the hazard of my life ; nay, 
though the whole world must not only be thrown 
into a state of conflict and confusion through it, 
but even rush back again into its original chaos, 
and be reduced to nothing. If you do not com 
prehend, or do not feel, these things, mind your 
own business; and give others leave to compre 
hend and to feel them, on whom God has be 
stowed this power. 

For I am not such a fool, or such a madman, I 
thank God, as to have been willing to plead and 
maintain this cause so long, with such resolute 
ness, with such constancy, (you call it obstinacy) 



PART I. amidst so many hair-breadth escapes with life, 

amidst so many enmities, amidst so many wiles 

and snares in short, amidst the rage and 
phrenzy of men and devils ; for the sake of money, 
which I neither have nor desire ; or for the sake 
of glory, which, if I would, I could not obtain in 
a world that is so hostile to me ; or for the sake of 
bodily life, of which I cannot ensure the possession 
for a single moment. Do you think that you are 
the only person who hath a heart that is moved 
with these tumults ? I, no more than yourself j 
am made of stone, or born of the Marpesian rocks. 
But, since it must be so, 1 1 choose rather to endure 
the collisions of a temporal tumult, for asserting 
the word of God, with an invincible and incorrup 
tible mind, rejoicing all the while in the sense and 
manifestations of his favour, than to be crushed to 
pieces by the intolerable torments of an eternal 
tumult, as one of the victims of God s wrath. The 
Lord grant that your mind be not such (I hope 
and wish he may !) but your words sound as 
though, like Epicurus, you accounted the word of 
God and a future state to be mere fables ; when, 
by virtue of the doctorial authority with which 
you are invested, you wish to propose to us, that, 
in order to please pontiffs and princes, or to pre 
serve this dear peace of yours, we should submit 
ourselves, and, for a while, relinquish the use of 
the word of God, sure as that word is," if occasion 
require ; although, by such relinquishment, we re 
linquish God, faith, salvation, and every Christian 
possession. How much better does Christ advise 
us, to despise the whole world rather than do 
this ! 

But you say such things, because you do not 
read, or do not observe, that this is the most con- 


Peace of 
the world 

1 Since I am reduced to this painful alternative of evils. 
u Certiasimum. ] Opposed to what Erasmus gave reason to 
su?pect that he accounted it : verbum Dei et futuram vitam 
Jaiulas esse putis. 


stapt fortune of the word of God,, to have the sc.xvin. 
u oriel iu a state of tumult because : of it. Christ 

X*s > ^s^V^ S.^^%*^ ^^^^^^^a^^h^^^^^*^^ 

explicitly asserts this,, when he says, " I am not distu bed, 
come to send peace, but a sword." (Matt. x. 34.) S^S* 1 *" 
And in Luke, " I am come to send fire on the against a. 
earth." (Luke xii. 49.) And Paul (2 Cor. vi. 5.) jjf" it . 
" In seditions," &c. And the Prophet testifies the 
same thing, with great redundancy of expression, 
in the second Psalm, when he asserts, that the 
nations are in a tumult, that the people murmur, 
that the kings rise up, that the princes take coun 
sel together against the Lord and against his 
Christ: as though he should say, numbers, gran 
deur, riches, power, wisdom, justice, and what 
soever is exalted in the world, opposes itself to 
the word of God. See, in the Acts of the Apos 
tles, what happens in the world through Paul s 
preaching only, not to mention the other Apos 
tles ; how he singly and alone stirs up both Gen 
tiles and Jews : or, as his enemies themselves 
affirm in that same place, how he troubles* the 
whole world. The kingdom of Israel is troubled 
under the ministry of Elijah, as king Ahab com 
plains. What a stir there was under the other 
Prophets ! whilst they are all slain with the 
sword, or stoned ; whilst Israel is led captive 
into Assyria, and-Judah, in like manner, to Baby 
lon. Was this peace ? The world and its God 
neither can nor trill endure the word of the true 
God ; the true God neither will nor can be silent. 
\Vhrn these two Gods are at war, what can there 
br but tumult in all the world? 

The wish to hush these storms is nothing else 
but a wish to take the word of God out of the 
way, and to stay its course. For the word of 
God comes for the very purpose of changing andf 
renewing the world, as often as it does come; 5 
and even Gentile writers bear witness that a> 

v Conturlnt. ] Luther makes it troubled waters ; we, more 
correctly, the world turned upside down , a 



PART I; change of things cannot take place without com 
motion and tumult, nay, without blood. It is the 
part of a Christian, now-a-days, to await and 
endure these things with presence of mind; as 
Christ says, " When ye shall hear of wars and 
rumours of wars, be not afraid, for these things 
must first be, but the end is not just yet." I, for 
my part, should say, if I saw not these tumults, 
the word of God is not in the world : but seeing 
them, I rejoice in my heart and despise them ; 
most sure, that the kingdom of the Pope and his 
adherents is about to fall : for the word of God, 
which is now running in the world, has especially 
invaded this kingdom. To be sure, I see you, 
my Erasmus, complaining of these tumults in 
many of your publications, and mourning over 
the loss of peace and concord. Moreover, you 
try many expedients to cure this disorder, with a 
good intention, as I verily believe ; but this is a 
sort of gout, which mocks your healing hands. 
For here, to use your own expression, you are, in 
truth, sailing against the stream; nay, you are 
extinguishing fire with stubble. Cease to com 
plain, cease to play the physician: .tins confusion 
is of God in its origin, and in its progress; nor 
will it cease, till it has made all the adversaries of 
the word like the mire of the streets. But it is a 
lamentable thing, that it should be necessary to 
admonish you, who are so great a theologian, of 
these things, as a scholar ; when you ought to b( 
filling the place of a master. 

This, then, is the proper application of youi 
aphorism (a very excellent one though you mis 
apply it), that some diseases are borne witl 
less evil than removed/ Let all those tumults, 
commotions, troubles, seditions, divisions, dis 
cords, wars, and whatsoever other things there 
are of like kind, with which, for the word of 
GocVs sake, the whole world is shaken and clashed 
together in conflict; be called diseases better 


borne than cured. These things, I say, being 1 sc.xvin. 
temporal, are borne with less mischief than old 
habits of evil; by which all souls must perish, 
except they be changed through the word of God. 
So that, by taking this word of God away, you 
take away eternal blessings ; God, Christ, the 
Spirit. But how much better were it to lose the 
world, than to lose the Creator of the world ; who 
can create innumerable worlds afresh, and who is 
lu t<rr than an infinity of worlds ! For what com 
parison is there between temporal arid eternal 
things ? Much rather, then, is this leprosy of 
temporal evils to be borne, than that, at the ex 
pense of the slaughter and eternal damnation of 
all the souls in the world, the world should, by 
their blood and destruction, be pacified and cured 
of all these tumults : since one soul cannot be 
redeemed by paying the whole world for its ran 
som. You have many beautiful and excellent 
similies and aphorisms : but when you come to 
sacred subjects, you apply them childishly, and 
3ven perversely ; x for you crawl on the ground, 
ind have no thought of any thing which is beyond 
nere human conception. Now, the things which 
jod does are neither childish things, nor civil or 
lumaii things; but things of God; y and such as 
exceed all human conception. For example ; 
r ou do not see that these tumults and divisions 
ire marching through the world by divine coun- 
el and operation, and you are afraid the skies 
hould fall : but I, on the other hand, thanks be 
o God ! see good in these storms ; because I see 
ther and greater in the world to come, compared 
ith which, these seem but as the whispers of the 

x Perverse. ] Distortcdly, in a manner contrary to their real 
leaning and use. Luther s charge is no less than this : what 
rastnus counted evil was really good ; and vice versa. 

y Pueriha, cwilia, humana, divina. ] Civ. What relate to 
ian as a citizen ; opposed to puerilia , because it was not till 
man attained a certain age that he became entitled to them. 

E 2 


PART I. gentle breeze, or the murmur of the soft-flowing 

- stream. 

sc.xix. But you either deny,, or profess not to know, 

- that our doma of free confession and satisfaction 

whether ls t]l6 WOrd f 

the dogma This is another* question: we, however, both 
office con- k no \v, and are sure, that it is the word of God ; 
scriptural an d that word by which Christian liberty is main- 
The Pope tained, in order that we may not allow ourselves to 

A f^ A 

cunotbe ^ e entrapped into servitude by human traditions 
obeyed and laws. A point this, which I have abundantly 
conjointly. p rove( ] elsewhere : and, if you should have a mind 

The people 1 . * i i 

must be to try the question, 1 am ready to plead in sup- 
left to p 0r t o f it, even at your judgment seat; a or to 
debate it with you. Many books of ours are 
before the public upon these questions. 

Still, however, the laws of the pontiffs ought to 
be suffered, and to be observed equally with the di 
vine laws, out of love, if both the eternal salvation 
of men, through the word of God, and the peace of 
the world, may thus be made to subsist together 
without tumult/ 

I have said before that this cannot be. The 
prince of this world does not suffer that the laws 
of his Pope and his cardinals be maintained in 
consistency w r ith liberty, but has it in his mind to 
entrap and enchain men s consciences by them. 
The true God cannot endure this. Thus it is, that 
the word of God, and the traditions of men, are 
opposed to each other with an implacable discord, 

z Hac alia qu&stio est.~\ Other than that of the expediency 
of proclaiming it, as supposed to be acknowledged truth. Fret 
confession is introduced by Erasmus, as his third example of t 
dogma, which, though true, ought not to be circulated. 

a El tibi dicere.~] Like his etiam te judice , in Part ii 
Sect. i. means making Erasmus himself the judge. Vel con 
serere manus might be supposed to allude to an ancient cus 
torn, ex jure manu consertum vocare ; when a party expresset 
his willingness to go with his adversary into the field, if dissa 
tisfied with the award of the tribunal : a species of judicia 
combat. But I prefer the simpler antithesis of the text. 


no other than that with which God himself and sc. xix. 

Satan oppose each other ; and the one undoes the 

works and subverts the dogmas of the other, like 
two kings laying waste each other s kingdom. 
" He that is not with me is against me," says 

Now, with respect to the fear that the multitude, 
who are prone to crimes, will abuse such liberty; 
This must be classed amongst those disturb 
ances we have been speaking of, as a part of that 
temporal leprosy which is to be tolerated; of that 
evil which is to be endured. Nor are these per 
sons of so great account, that the word of God 
should be given up in order to restrain their 
abuse of it. If all cannot be saved, still some are 
saved ; for whose sake the word of God is given : 
and these will love it the more fervently, and con 
sent to it the more reverently. And what evils, 
pray, have wicked men not done even before this, 
when there was no word of God; rather, what 
good did they? Has not the world for ever over 
flowed with war, fraud, violence, discord, and all 
manner of wickedness, so that Micah compares 
the very best amongst them to a thorn? (Micah 
vii. 4.) What would he call the rest, think you? 
Now, indeed, it begins to be imputed to the pro 
mulgation of the Gospel, that the world is wicked; 
because through the good Gospel it more truly 
appears how wicked the world was, whilst it lived 
in its own darkness, without the Gospel. So, illite 
rate men attribute it to literature, that their igno 
rance has become notorious since letters have 
flourished. Such are the thanks we render to the 
word of life and salvation ! What a fear, then, 
must we suppose to have been kindled amongst 
the Jews, when the Gospel absolved all men from 
the law of Moses ! b What degree of licence did 

b Luther s expressions are not equivocal here, but irrcstric- 
tive and direct : absolved all men from the law of Moses , 
without excepting any part of that law ; and it is essential to 



SEC. xx. 

PARTI, this prodigious liberty not seem to be hereby 
conceding to wicked men ? But the Gospel was 
not therefore withheld. Wicked men were left 
to their own ways, and it was charged upon the 
godly not to use their liberty for an occasion to 
the flesh. (Gal. v. 13.) 

Nor does that part of your counsel or remedy 
stand good, where you say, It is lawful to de- 
c ^ are the truth amongst any persons, at any time, 
about per- and in any manner, but it is not expedient ; and 
an? ia e e V6r ^ a ^ surc ^J adduce Paul s words, " All things 
penurious , are lawful unto me, but all things are not expe 
dient." (1 Cor. vi. 12.) 

Paul is not here speaking about doctrine, or 
about teaching the truth, as you, confounding his 
words, and drawing them whither you please, 
would represent him to do. Nay, he would have 
the truth proclaimed every where, at any time, by 
any means ; insomuch, that he even rejoices that 
Christ should be preached for an occasion, and 
out of envy ; and expressly testifies, in the very 
words, that he rejoices if Christ be preached by 
any means. A Paul is speaking about the practice 
and use of doctrine ; to wit, of those vaunters of 
Christian liberty, who, " seeking their own/ e 
cared not what stumbling-blocks they made, and 
what offences they occasioned by them to the 
weak. The true doctrine is to be preached 

his argument that he be understood thus comprehensively. 
Else what ground of fear ? 

c Erasmus interposes in the form of an adviser, or physician ; 
reprobating the course pursued by others, and suggesting a 
better : this was no other than to modify the truth by squaring 
it to times, places, and persons. 

d The allusion is evidently to Philip i. 18, which fully jus 
tifies his quovis modo. " What then ? notwithstanding every 
way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached ; and 
I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." The every way , 
or by any means , is whatsoever spirit he be preached with j 
sincere or insincere. 

e " For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus 
Christ s." (Philip ii. 21.) 


always, openly, steadily, never to be turned aslant, sc. xx. 

never to be concealed : f for there is none occasion 

of stumbling in it; tis the rod of straightness. g And 
who ever empowered you, or gave you the right, 
to bind the Christian doctrine to places, persons, 
times, cases ; when Christ wills it to be published, 
and to reign in the world with the most perfect 
freedom ? " For the word of God is not bound," 
says Paul, (2 Tim. ii. 9.) and shall Erasmus bind 
it? Nor hath God given us a word which is to 
make selection of places, persons, and times ; 
since Christ says, (f Go ye into all the world." 
He does not say, Go to a certain place, and 
to a certain place go not/ as Erasmus speaks. 
Again ; " Preach the Gospel to every creature." 
(Mark xvi. 15.) He does not say, Preach it to 
some, to some preach it not/ In short, you pre 
scribe acceptance of persons, acceptance of places, 
and acceptance of manner ; that is to say, TIME 
SERVINGS ; in ministering the word of God ; 
whereas, this is one great part of the glory of 
the word, that " there is no acceptance of per 
sons" (as Paul says) and " God respecteth not 
persons." You see again, how rashly you make 
war upon b the word of God, as though you pre- 

f Obliquanda, ] Obliq. is sometimes applied to the veering 
and tacking of ships ; but the essential idea is bending, or 
making crooked, what is in itself straight. It is here opposed 
to constanter, as celanda is to palam . The truth must be 
preached in its straightness, or perpendicularity, not bent down 
wards or sideways, that it may be accommodated to the taste, 
or lusts, or supposed unaptnesses of the hearer. 

K The allusion is evidently to Psa. xiv. 6. Luther seems to 
have understood the Gospel or doctrine of Christ by this rod 
or sceptre ; as he does also, though not exclusively, in his ex 
position of this psalm. (Vide in loco.) I should rather under 
stand it of his own personal conduct, as a prince. But according 
to Luther s allusion, the truth being a straight or upright rod, 
he who walks by it will walk straightly, or uprightly, and will 
not give occasion to others to walk crookedly, or pronely. 

h The word of God teaches that there is no respect of per 
sons, and that God regardeth not the persons of men. Coloss. 
iii. 25. Rom. ii. 6. Gal. ii. 6. Ephes. vi. 9. James ii. 1. Luke 


PART. I. ferred your own thoughts and counsels very far 
before it. 

If now we should request you to distinguish 
times, persons, and modes of speaking the truth 
for us, when will you determine them ? The 
world will have laid its end to sleep, and time be 
no more, before you have fixed upon a single 
sure rule. Meanwhile, what becomes of the 
teacher s office? where shall we find the souls 
which are to be taught ? Nay, how is it possible 
that you should lay down any sure rule, when you 
know no rate by which to estimate persons, times, 
and modes of speech ? But if you assuredly knew 
such a rate, still you are ignorant of the hearts 
of men. Unless, indeed, you should choose to 
adopt this; standard for your manner of speaking, 
for your time and your person; teach the truth, 
so that the Pope shall not be indignant, so that 
Ca3sar shall not be angry, so that the cardinals 
and princes be not displeased; provide further, 
that there be no tumults or commotions in the 
world, and that the multitude be not stumbled, 

xx. 21. Acts x. 34, &c. &c. How contrary is it, then, to the clear 
testimony of the word, which declares that God mocks all 
human distinctions ; that Jew and Greek, master and servant, 
or slave, rulers and subjects, pillars of the church, and men 
disinterested in the church, are alike regarded and disregarded 
by Him ; to have respect to these distinctions, as Erasmus 
would counsel us, in the ministry of the word ! These testi 
monies are sometimes perverted to mean a denial of God s 
electing grace. ; which they do not, in the slightest degree, im 
pugn, nor did Luther conceive so. He maintained that grace 
as firmly as any man. The truth is, respect of persons in 
Scripture, means respect of persons according to human and 
earthly distinctions ; in which regards, God, contrariwise to 
man, puts no difference between them. His distinctions, which, 
lie palpably makes, are built upon another foundation. " Where 
there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircum- 
sion, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free ; but Christ is all, and 
in all." (Coloss. iii. 1 1.) But then. " Blessed be the God and 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all 
spiritual blessings (or blessedness) in heavenly places in Christ ; 
according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the 
world," &c. Eph. i. 3, 4. &c. 


and made worse/ You have already seen, what sc.xxi. 

sort of a counsel this is. But you choose to play 

the rhetorician after this manner, with idle words, 
because you must say something. 

How much better were it for us wretched men 
to give to God, who knows all hearts, the glory 
of prescribing the manner, persons, and times of 
speaking the truth ! He knows the ( what , the 
when , the ( how , and the c to whom , we ought 
to speak ; and his injunction is, that his Gospel, 
which is necessary to all, should know no limits of 
place or time, but should be preached to all men, 
at all times, and in all places. I have already 
shewn that the things set forth in the Scripture 
are such as lie exposed to the view of all men; 
such as, whether we will or no, must be spread 
abroad amongst the common people ; and such as 
are salutary. What you also maintained yourself 
in your Paraclesis, when you gave better counsel 
than you do now. Let us leave it to those who 
are unwilling that souls should be redeemed ; such 
as the Pope and his myrmidons ; to bind the word 
of God, and shut men out from eternal life and the 
kingdom of heaven ; neither entering in them 
selves, nor suffering others to enter in: whose 
mad rage you, Erasmus, are perniciously serving 
by this suggestion of yours. 

With the same sort of wariness you, in the next The Fa- 
place, suggest that we ought not to make public the not 

j i A- -i- J.T i_- i to be set 

declarations in opposition to any thing which may O n a level 
have been determined wrongly in general conn- with . 
cils ; lest we should give a handle for despising theh- S deci- 
t he authority of the Fathers. sions have 

This you say to please the Pope; who hears it ^buJ " 
with more pleasure than he does the Gospel : un- from the 
,; grateful in the extreme, if he does not, in return, word - 
i honour you with a cardinal s hat and revenues ! 
Meanwhile, what is to become of those souls which 
! have been fettered and slain by the unrighteous 
decree? Is this nothing to you? Why, you 





ness of 
certain pa 
all things 
by neces- 

always feel, or pretend to feel, that the statutes 
of men may be observed without any danger ; in 
coincidence with the pure word of God. If they 
could, I would readily accord with this propo 
sition of yours. So then, if you be still ignorant, 
I will again inform you, that e human statutes 
cannot be observed in conjunction with the word 
of God/ For the former bind men s consciences, 
the latter looses them ; and they fight one with 
another like fire and water, except the former be 
kept freely ; that is, as statutes not binding : a 
thing very contrary to the Pope s will ; and which 
must be so, unless he should wish to destroy and 
put an end to his own kingdom ; which is only 
kept up by ensnaring and fettering men s consci 
ences, whilst the Gospel declares them to be free. 
The authority of the Fathers, then, must be set at 
nought, and all bad decrees (in which number I 
include all such determinations as are not war 
ranted by the word of God) must be torn in pieces, 
and thrown to the dogs ; for Christ s authority is 
of another sort than that of the Fathers. In short, 
if your statement comprehends the word of God, 
it is a wicked one : if it be confined to other 
writings, your verbose discussion of the sentiment 
which you recommend is nothing to me ; my as 
sertions have respect to the word of God only. 1 

In the last part of your Preface, you seriously 
dissuade us from this sort of doctrine, and fancy 
that you have almost succeeded. What is more 
injurious, you say, than that this paradox should 
be published to the world, that whatsoever is 
done by us is not done by Freewill, but by mere 

Erasmus had said, that bad decisions should be hushed up ; 
and if spoken of, it should rather be said, that they were good at 
the time, though unseasonable now. Luther replies, if your 
remark be intended to affect any decision which is founded 
upon the word of God, the sentiment is impious. With res 
pect to any other sort of decisions, whether you choose to call 
them pious and holy, or acknowledge them to be faulty, I have 
nothing to do with them. 


necessity ? And that saying of Augustine s that sc. xxn. 

God worketh both good and evil in us ; that he 

rewards his own good works in us, and punishes sit yV G <* 

i i_ j i , .) TT . , . all in all . 

his own bad works in us ! Here you are rich in 
giving, or rather, in demanding reasons. What 
a window will this saying open to impiety, if it be 
commonly published amongst men ? What wicked 
man will correct his life ? Who will think he is 
loved of God? Who will strive with his flesh? 

I am surprised that, in this mighty vehemence 
and agony of yours, you did not remember your 
cause, and say, what will then become of Freewill? 
Let me also become speaker in my turn, Erasmus, 
and I will ask you, if you account these paradoxes 
to be the invention of men, why dispute? why 
boil with rage? Whom are you opposing? Is 
there a man in all the world, at this day, who has 
more vehemently inveighed against the dogmas of 
men, than Luther has done ? So that this admoni 
tion of yours is nothing to me. But, if you be 
lieve these paradoxes to be the word of God, 
I what face have you? k what modesty have you? 
Where is now I will not say, that wonted so 
briety of Erasmus, but that fearful reverence 
which is due to the true God ; when you as 
sert, that nothing can be affirmed more unpro- 
fitably than this word of God ? What ! I suppose 
your Creator is to learn from his creature what is 
useful to be preached, and what not ? Yes, 
this foolish and ill-advised God has not known 
hitherto what is expedient to be taught; but now 
at last his master Erasmus will prescribe to him 
! the manner in which he shall be wise, and in which 
he shall deliver his commands ! He, forsooth, 
would have been ignorant, unless you had taught 
him, that your inference follows upon his paradox! 

k Ubl frons tua,.~] The face is the index of sensibility : 
"ffrontery is the result of obduracy. Luther s question implies 
you can have no face ; you must have a brow of brass, to 
speak so. 


PART i. If God, then,, hath been willing to have such 

things spoken openly, and spread abroad amongst 

the common people, without regard to con 
sequences ; who are you, that you should forbid 
him ? 

Paul the Apostle explicitly declares the same 
things, in his Epistle to the Romans, open-mouthed, 
not in a corner, but publicly and before the whole 
world, in even harsher words ; saying, " Whom 
he will he hardeneth." (Rom. ix. 18.) And again, 
" God willing to make his wrath known." (Rom. ix. 
22.) What is harsher (to the flesh, I mean) than 
that saying of Christ, " Many are called, but few 
chosen." (Matt. xxii. 14.) And again, "I know 
whom I have chosen." 1 (John xiii. 18.) All these 
sayings, forsooth, if we listen to your suggestions, 
are amongst the most injurious that can be con 
ceived ; inasmuch as they are the instruments by 
which ungodly men fall gradually m into despera 
tion, hatred of God, and blasphemy. 

Here, as I perceive, you reckon that the truth 
and usefulness of Scripture are to be weighed and 
decided by the judgment of men, and these no 
other than the most ungoldly ; so that, what they 
shall be pleased with, and account tolerable, that, 
verily, is true, is divine, is salutary; and, what 
shall be otherwise in their eyes, that is straight- 
ways useless, false, and pernicious. What do 
you propose by this counsel, but that God s words 
should be dependent upon the will and authority 
of men, so as to stand or fall by them ? whereas 
the Scripture, on the other hand, says, that every 
thing stands or falls by the will and authority oi 
God ; nay, that " all the earth must keep silence 
before the face of the Lord." (Hab. ii. 20.) To 
speak as you do, a man must imagine the living 
God to be nothing else but some light and igno- 

1 See Chap. i. Sect. iii. note . 

ni Prolabantur. ] Translate sensim devenire, palatim ac- 


rant sort of Ranter, declaiming- in a rostrum; sc.xxri. words you are at liberty, if you choose, to 

interpret any how you please ; accepting or re 
jecting them, according to the emotions or affec 
tions which you see produced by them in wicked 
men. You clearly shew here, my Erasmus, how 
sincere you was before, in persuading us to re 
spect the awful majesty of the divine judgments. 
When the question was about the dogmas of 
Scripture, and there was no need to call for reve 
rence towai ds them, on the ground of their being 
shut up, and hidden from view; inasmuch as 
there are none of this sort ; you, in words of 
great solemnity, threatened us with Corycian 
caves, lest we should break in curiously: so as 
almost to deter us, by fear, from reading- Scrip 
ture at all ; that very Scripture which Christ and 
his Apostles, and even your own pen, elsewhere, 
so greatly urge and persuade us to study ! But, 
here, when we are actually arrived, not at the 
dogmas of Scripture and the Corycian cave only, 
but truly at the awful secrets of the divine ma 
jesty ; to wit, why he works in the manner which 
hath been mentioned ; here, I say, you break 
through bolts and bars, and rush forwards, with 
all but blasphemies in your mouth ; shewing all 
possible indignation against God, because you 
are not permitted to see the design and arrange 
ment of such a judgment of his ! n Why do not 

n Non licet videre. ] Referring to Augustine s saying, that 
God worketh all tilings in us ; rewarding his own good, and 
I punishing his own evil. In a future part of the work, where 
this subject is more fully gone into, and to which I defer my 
observations on it as here briefly glanced at ; I trust it will ap 
pear, that the word of God does not really leave us in that 
depth of darkness winch Luther s language here implies, and 
which his fuller statement, hereafter made, affirms. God has 
not revealed himself that he might remain hidden ; as un 
known, or even yet more unknown than he was before ; but, 
amidst the unsearchableness of his infinity, has, by his counsel 
of manifestation, which the Scripture records, unveiled much 




Answers to 
Erasmus s 
who will 
take pains, 
&c.? Two 
why these 
should be 


you here, also, pretend obscurities and ambigui 
ties ? Why do not you both restrain yourself,, and 
deter others, from prying into those things which 
God hath willed to be kept secret from us,, and 
hath not published in his word? You should 
have laid your hand upon your mouth here, re 
vering the unrevealed mystery, adoring the secret 
counsels of the Divine Majesty, and exclaiming 
with Paul, " Nay, but, O man, who art thou that 
repliest against God ?" (Rom. ix. 20.) 

You say, ( who will take pains to correct his 
life? I answer, no man; nor will any one be 
even able to do so ; for God pays no regard to 
your amenders of life, which have not the Spirit, 
since they are but hypocrites. But the elect and 
godly will be amended by the Holy Spirit: the 
rest will perish unamended. For Augustine does 
not say that the good works of none will be 
crowned, nor yet that the good works of all will 
be crowned ; but that the good works of some are 
crowned. There will be some, therefore, who 
amend their life. You say, Who will believe 
that he is beloved of God ? I answer, no man 
will believe so, or be able to believe so ; but the 
elect will believe so : the rest, not believing, will 
perish ; storming and blaspheming, as you do in 
this place. There will be some, therefore, that 

As to what you say, that a window is opened 
to impiety by these doctrines What if the dis 
orders resulting from them be referred to that 
leprosy of tolerable evil, which I have already 
hinted at? Still, by the same dogmas, a door is 
at the same time opened to righteousness, and an 
entrance into heaven, and a way to God, for the 

of himself to our view ; which, before and without it, was, and 
must for ever have remained, concealed. Luther prodigy as 
he was, in his day had not the clue of God-manifestation to 
guide him through the labyrinth ; and, therefore, counted 
much that is light, darkness. 


elect and godly. Now if, according to your ad- sc.xxm. 

vice, we should abstain from these dogmas, and 

should hide this word of God from men, so that 
each one, beguiled by a false persuasion of his 
safety, should not learn to fear God, and to be 
humbled, that, through the means of wholesome 
fear, he may, at length, come to grace and love ; 
then, we shall have nobly closed your window of 
impiety ; but, in its place, we shall open folding 
doors ; nay, pits and gulfs ; not only to impiety, 
but even to the belly of hell; for ourselves and 
for all men. Thus, we should neither enter 
heaven ourselves, nor suffer others, who were 
entering, to go in. 

What is the use or necessity, then, of publish 
ing such things to the world, when so many evils 
seem to spring from them ? 

I answer; it were enough to say, ( God would 
have these things published : and, as to the prin 
ciples of the divine will, we have no right to ask 
them ; we ought simply to adore that will, giving 
glory to God ; because He, the only just and wise 
one, injures no man, and cannot possibly do any 
thing foolishly or rashly ; though it may appear 
far otherwise to us. Godly men are content with 
this answer. But, to be lavish of our abundance, 
let it be replied, that two things require the 
ipreaching of these truths/ The first is, the 
humbling of our pride, and a thorough knowledge 
)f the grace of God : the second, the very nature 
)f Christian faith. For the first, God hath pro- 
nised his grace, with certainty, to the humbled ; 
hat is, to those who bewail themselves in self- 
lespair. But man cannot be thoroughly humbled, 

Super-erogemus.~\ To lay out and bestow over and above 
/hat is due. Erogo, is properly applied to public money, 
xacted and issued upon petition and by order ; thence trans- 
?rred to private expenditure. Ut ex ubundantid super, implies, 
a superabundance of reasons might be alleged, where 
one is necessary. 


PART i. till lie knows that his salvation lies altogether be 
yond, and out of the reach of his own strength, 
counsels, desires, will, and works ; depending 
absolutely upon the counsel, will, and work, of 
another ; that is, of God only. For, as long as he 
is persuaded that he can do the least thing pos 
sible for his own salvation, he continues in self- 
conh dence, and does not absolutely despair of 
himself; therefore, he is not humbled before God, 
but goes round about anticipating for himself, or 
hoping, or, at least, washing to obtain, a place, a 
time, and some performance of his own, by which 
He may at length arrive at salvation. 15 On the 
other hand, he who has not the shadow of a doubt 
that he is dependent, wholly and solely, upon the 
will of God this man is complete in his self- 
despair ; this man chooses nothing,** but waits for 
God to work ; this man is next neighbour to that 
grace of God, which shall make him whole. So 
that these things are published for the elects 
sake ; that they may by these means be humbled 
and brought to know their own nothingness ; 
and so may be saved. The rest resist this sort of 
humiliation; nay, they condemn the teaching of 
this self-despair ; they would have some very 
small modicum of power left to themselves. These 
persons, secretly, remain proud, and adversaries 
to the grace of God. This, I say, is one reason 
why these truths should be preached; that the 

P Quo tandem perveniat. ] The contrast is between that direct 
going to God of the truly humbled sinner ; and the circuitous, 
procrastinative, self-centered expectations of the man who does 
not yet know the whole of his lostness and impotency. 

i Nihil eligit. ] In direct contrast with the sibi praesumit, 
sperat, optat* of the former sentence ; he does not desire or ex 
pect any particular combination of time and place, in which he 
may perform some great work for himself ; bullies passive in 
the hands of God, leaving it to God even to choose for him. 
The expression reminds us of St. Paul s language, under other 
circumstances, which was probably in Luther s mind - } " yet 
what I shall choose I wot not." (Phil. i. 22.) 


godly, being humbled, may come to a real know- sc.xxur. 
ledge r of the promise of grace, may call upon the 
name of the Lord, and may receive its fulfilment. 

The second reason for this preaching is, that, 
faith being conversant about things which do not 
appear ; to have place for faith, all the things 
believed must be hidden things. Now, things 
are never hidden further frcon us, than when the 
contrary to them is set before us by sense and ex 
perience. Thus God, whilst he makes us alive, 
does it by killing us; whilst he justifies us, does 
it by making us guilty; whilst he lifts us up to 
heaven, does it by plunging us into hell. As saith 
the Scripture, " The Lord killeth, and maketh 
alive ; he bringeth down to the grave, and 
bringeth up :" (1 Sam. ii. 6.) of which, this is not 
the place to discourse at large. Those, who have 
seen our books, are hackneyed in these topics. 
Thus He hides his eternal mercy and pity under 
eternal wrath ; his righteousness under iniquity. 

This is the highest degree of faith, to believe \ 
hat He is merciful, who saves so few, and con-j ; 
demns so many; to believe Him just, who, of his 
own will, makes us necessary objects of damna- 
ion ; s thus seeming, according to Erasmus s ac 
count, to be delighted with the torments of the 
wretched, and to deserve hatred, rather than love. / 
if then, I could, by any means, comprehend how 
this God is pitiful and just, who shews so great 
wrath and injustice, there would be no need of 
aith ; but now, since this cannot be compre 
hended, space is given for the exercise of faith, 
whilst these things are preached and published ; 

r Cognoscant. ] Nosco, vel bene nosco ; to know a person, 
or thing, not known before ; opposed to agnosco. 

8 Necessarib damnabiles. ] We were so created, have been so \ 
generated and brought out into manifest existence,, are so con- \ 
stituted and so situated, that we cannot choose but be just \ 
objects of God s eternal damnation. This necessity is not \ 
blind Fate, but arises out of the appointments, arrangements, 
.uid operations of God s counselled will. 



PART i. even as the faith of life is exercised in death,* 

whilst God is in the very act of killing us. Enough 

for the present, in a preface. 

By this proceeding of theirs, those who assert 
and defend these paradoxes, do, in fact, better 
provide against the impiety of the multitude, than 
you do, by your counsel of silence and abstinence; 
which, after all, avail;, nothing. For, if you either 
believe, or suspect that they are true (being, as 
they are, paradoxes of no small moment), through 
that insatiable desire which men have for scru 
tinizing secret things (then, most of all, when 
most of all we wish to conceal them), you will 
cause men to have a much greater desire for 
learning whether these paradoxes be true, by 
publishing this caution of yours ; you will have 
set them on fire, no doubt, by your eagerness. 
Thus it will be found, that none of us has ever 
yet given such occasion to the promulgation of 
these things, as you have done by this devout and 
vehement admonition. You would have acted 
more prudently, in quite holding your tongue 
about shunning these paradoxes, if you meant to 
obtain your wish. All is over now : since you do 
not absolutely deny that they are true, they can- 

* Fides vit<z.~] Luther has some allusion possibly to Job.xiii.15. 
" Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." Faith 
of eternal life ; the belief that he shall possess that life ; is 
exercised by the dying- man, in the moment when God is killing 
him. What ! He give thee life, who is now killing thee ? Yes ; 
so faith speaks. Even so, these apparent contradictions to the 
justice and other perfections of God, kill faith; but it is exer 
cised in the midst of this death. A fine thought ! But it 
will be seen elsewhere, as I trust, that Luther misconceives 
and overstates this difficulty ; through not seeing far enough 
into the counsel and actings of God. There is manifestly no 
injustice in the divine procedure ; when that procedure is 
viewed in its real nature and circumstances, as revealed. Nor 
are we without a manifested end, which the spiritual mind en 
tirely approves and rejoices in, for that severity, which is so 
hateful to carnal man. But it requires great depth, as-well as 
distinctness of vision, so to see, as to be verily and indeed satis 
fied with this mystery of God, by which He is making himself 


not hereafter be concealed, but will draw every sc.xxiv. 
body to the investigation of them, by the sus- - 
picion that they are true." Either deny, therefore, 
that they are true ; or keep silence first yourself, if 
you mean that others should be silent. 

With respect to the other paradox, that what- The P ai< a- 
ever we do is done by mere necessity, and not by aiihuman 
Freewill ; let us look a little into it here, that we works are 
may forbid its being called most pernicious. What I 
say at present is, when it shall have been shewn and 
that our salvation is placed beyond the reach of fended - 
our own power and wisdom, depending upon the 
work of God only (which I hope to prove fully, 
hereafter, in the body of my discourse), will it not 
clearly follow, that whilst God is not present 
as a worker in us, every thing is evil which we 
do ; and that we do necessarily those things which 
are of no profit to our own salvation ? For, if 
it is not ive, but only God, that works salvation 
in us ; we do nothing that is profitable to our 
salvation, whether we will or no, before he works 
in us. When I say necessarily, I do not mean by 
compulsion ; but, as it is said, by a necessity of 
immutability, not of compulsion : that is, when a 
man is destitute of the Spirit of God, he does not 
\\ork. evil against his will, through a violence put 
ipon him; as if some one should seize him by the 
limit, and twist him round ; just as a thief or 
lighwayman is carried, against his will, to the 
Callows ; but he works it of his own accord, and 
vith a willing will. But then he cannot, by 
lis own strength, lay aside, restrain, or change 
his good pleasure, or will to act; but he goes on 
,o Billing and liking : and, even if he should be corn 
s >elled from without to do something else by force, 
till his will remains averse within him, and he is 
ngry with the person who compels or resists him. 

u Suspicione veritaiis. ] Interdum suspicio est opinio, co- 
I iitatio, conjectura, levis cognitio : a sort of surmise 
i nat they may be true. 



PART I. N OW , h e would not be angry, if his mind were 
changed, and he were following the force which 
acts upon him willingly. This is what I at pre 
sent call c a necessity of immutability ; that is, 
the will cannot change itself and turn another 
way, but is rather provoked the more to will, by 
being resisted : as is proved by its indignation. 
This would not be, if the will were free, or pos 
sessed Freewill. Appeal to experience. How 
impracticable those persons are, who cleave to any 
thing with affection. If these persons cease to 
cleave, they so cease through violence, or through 
the greater advantage which they are to derive 
from something else ; they never cease to cleave, 
but by constraint : whereas, if they have no affec 
tion for the thing, they suffer, what may, to go for 
wards and be done. 

So, if, on the other hand, God work in us, the 
will which has been changed and softly whispered 
to by the Spirit of God, again wills and acts ac 
cording to its own sheer lust, proneness, and self- 
accord, not compelledly ; so that it cannot be 
changed into another sort of will by any opposite 
excitements, nor overcome or compelled, even by 
the gates of hell ; but goes on willing and liking 
and loving good, just as it before willed and 
liked and loved evil. For, experience again 
proves, how invincible and constant holy men are. 
whilst they are goaded on by force to other ob 
jects ; insomuch, that they are from thence the 
more provoked to will : just as fire is inflamed bj 
the wind, rather than extinguished ! So that 
neither in this case is there any freedom in tin 
will to turn itself another way, or will some 
thing else, as the free will might choose ; si 
long as the Spirit and God s grace remain in th 

In short, if we be under the power of the Go 
of this world, being destitute of the work an 
Spirit of the true God, we are held captive by hii 


at his will ; as Paul says (2 Tim. ii. 26.) ; so that sc.xxiv. 
we cannot will any thing but what he wills. For 
he is himself that strong- man armed, who so 
keepeth his palace that those are in peace whom 
he possesses ; lest they should stir up any com 
motion or thought against him. Otherwise, the 
kingdom of Satan, being divided against itself 
could not stand ; whereas Christ affirms that it \ 
does stand. And this will of his we do willingly ( 
and cordially, agreeably to the nature of our will;; 
which, if it were compelled, would not be a Will : 
for compulsion is, if I may so speak, more pro-; 
perly Non-will.* But, if a stronger than lie come 
upon him, and, having conquered him, carry us/ 
off as a spoil; then, again, we become servants, 
and captives through His spirit (which, however, ) 
is royal liberty), to will and do of our own lust, 
just what He himself wills. Thus, the human will 
is placed, as a sort of packhorse, in the midst of 
two contending parties. If God hath mounted, 
it wills and goes whither God pleases; as the 
Psalmist says, u I am become as a beast of 
burden, and I am ever with thee." y (Psa. Ixxiii. 
22, 23.) If Satan hath mounted, it wills and goes 
whither Satan wills. Nor is it in its own choice, 
to which of the two riders it shall run, or to seek 
its rider; but the riders themselves contend for the 
acquisition and possession of it. z 

Noluntas. ] The negation of will; a state supposed, 
vhich is inconsistent with the very existence of the faculty : 
et this is what the opponents of necessity would charge its 
issertors with maintaining ; instead of that constrained but 
reely-acted obedience, which is essential to the reality of God s 
!>eing God, and man his moral creature. 

1 y Our authorized version gives another turn to this passage, 
iy dividing the verses differently. But the original text is, 
~ I am foolish, and I did not know that I was behemoth before 
hee : and I am always with thee, thou holdest in thy hand my 
ight hand." 

1 Luther does not really mean what his words might seem to 
uply, that God and Satan are co-equal rivals for the throne of 



by his own 
sion : folly 
and mad 
ness of 
man s 


What if I shall have proved from your own 
words, in which you assert Freewill, that there is 
no such thing as Freewill ; so as to convict you of 
unwarily denying the conclusion which you endea 
vour, with so much wariness, to establish ? 
Verily, if I do not succeed in this, I swear to re 
voke all which I have written against you, from 
the beginning to the end of this book; and to con 
firm all which vour Diatribe either asserts or 


brings into question against me. a 

You represent the power of the free will as 
something very diminutive, and what is altogether 
inefficacious without the grace of God. 

Do not you acknowledge this ? I ask and de 
mand, then, if the grace of God be .wanting, or be 

man s will. Hereafter, it will be found, that he firmly and ex 
plicitly maintains the universal and minute sovereignty of God, 
as the doer of all things. His object here is to shew the 
governance under which man s will is ; that it is under the 
power and control of the devil, unless and until the Holy 
Ghost assume the empire of it : when it is still a subject, 
though the subject of another, and that a freedom-giving 
master. The truth, however, is, that God has never given 
Freewill (if by Freewill is meant an uncontrolled will) to any Man, in his creation state., had the power of choos 
ing, and refusing, as he has now ; and the difference between 
his then state and his now state, consisted in his knowing no 
thing but good ; and, till the moment of trial, having no temp 
tation to choose any thing but good. When that temptation was, 
for the first time, presented to him, we know how he met it and 
the result was a corrupted faculty, which Satan rides as his 
packhorse. But both his seat and his riding are of the gift, 
and according to the will, of God ; even as his dispossession is, 
when, as and in whom God wills j not a moment sooner, or 
later. Yet all this agency of God in no Avise contradicts the 
reality of a will in man ; God s universal and minute govern 
ment consisting in his setting, or rather procuring to be set, 
before this faculty, such considerations as shall lead the free- 
agent possessor of it to choose just what God would have him 

a Contra me turn assent, turn quceni."] Much of Erasmus s 
argument consisted of dubitative remark ; hinting a fault or 
objection, rather than boldly stating it ; and proposing ques 
tions, rather than affirming certainties. 


separated from this little something of power; sc.xxv. 
what will it do by itself ? b It is inefficacious, you 

,. Hi * V -* "* <L * * "* J* 7 mj 

say, and does nothing that is good. Then it w r ill 
not do what God or his grace would have to be 
done (for we suppose here, that the grace of God 
is in a state of separation from it), and what the 
grace of God doeth not, is not good. It follows, 
therefore, that the free will, c without the grace of 

9 - i, -i- i - __ - , ^ ir" 1 i_ji >_j -n_i i.i CT f 

God>,ia-~aJj>SQlutely not free, but is immutably the 
captive and slave of evil ; .since it cannot, of itseltj 
turn to good. Let but this be allowed, and I will 
give you leave to make the power of the free will 
not only that small something, but the power of 
an angel ; a power, if you can, that is truly 
divine. Still, if you shall add this unhappy ap 
pendage, that it is inefficacious without the grace 
of God, you will instantly take away all power 
from it. What is an inefficacious power, but no 
power at all ? 

To say, then, that the will is free, and has 
power, but that its power is inefficacious, is what 
the Sophists call an opposite in the adjunct : 
as if you should say, the will is free, but it is not 
free. It is like saying, fire is cold, and earth is 
hot. Let fire possess even an infernal degree of 
heat ; if it be neither warm nor burn, but be cold 
and make cold, I will not call it fire, much less 
hot unless you choose to consider it as a paint 
ing or engraving of a fire. If, however, we should 
declare Freewill to be that power, which renders 

b Quid ipsa faciet .] This question is no less than the death 
blow to Freewill, how modest soever may be the pretensions 
made for her. A false candour and a ruinous forbearance say, 
why attempt to separate what run so closely and so harmo 
niously together, God s grace and man s exertion ? Goodwill 
to man and zeal for God demand the separation : thus only can 
man be made to. know himself ; thus only can God s proper 
praise be knowingly and unfeignedly rendered to him. 

e See above, Sect. ix. note u . Lib. arb. The power of will 
ing/ thus asserted to be free. Vis lib. arb. The power of this 
power, &c. &c. Freewill. 


PART I. man a fit substance to be seized by the Spirit and 
imbued with the grace of God, as a being created 
to eternal life, or eternal death ; we should speak 
properly. For we also confess this power (that 
is, this fitness) in the will ; or, as the Sophists 
speak, this disposable quality and passive adapt- 
edness ; which everybody knows to be not im 
planted in the trees and in the beasts : for God 
hath not created heaven for geese and ganders ; 
as it is said. d 

It stands fixed, even by your own testimony, 
therefore, that we do all things by necessity, and 
nothing by Freewill ; so long as the power of the 
free will is nothing, and neither does nor can do 
good, in the absence of grace. Unless you, by a 
new use of terms, should choose to mean com 
pletion by efficacy; intimating, that Freewill 
can begin and can will a good work, though not 
complete it ; which I do not believe. But more of 
this hereafter. 

It follows, from what has been said, that Jxee- 
vyill is a title which belongs altogether to God; 
and cannot join with any other being, save, the 
Divine Majesty only. For that Divine Majesty, 
as the Psalmist sings, can and does effect all that 
He wills in heaven and in earth. (Psa. cxxxv. 6.) 
But if this title be ascribed to men, you might just 
as well ascribe divinity itself to them ; a sacrilege 
which none can exceed. So that, it was the duty 
of theologians to abstain from this word, when 

d It is necessary to mark with precision the amount of this 
concession. Man has a rational will, (not that his reason is 
seated in his will ; it is a distinct faculty ; and we should say 
more correctly, man has an understanding as well as a will) 
which brutes have not ; and through the means of which he 
may become the subject of spiritual influences. There is a 
spirit in man ; and this spirit may be renewed and invigorated 
by the Holy Ghost, so as to discern spiritual objects, and to 
perform spiritual acts. But how does this affect the reality of 
the natural blindness and impotency of the rational will ? It 
presupposes that reality. 


they would speak of human power, and to leave it SC. xxv. 
for God only; and, having done this, to remove the 
same from out of the mouth and discourse of men, 
claiming it as a sacred and venerable title for their 
God. e Nay, if they must by all means ascribe 
some power to man, they should teach that it be 
called by some other name than Free will; espe 
cially, when as we all see and know, the common 
people are miserably seduced and beguiled by 
this term ; hearing in it, and conceiving from it, 
a something very far different from what theolo 
gians entertain in their minds, and affirm. For 
t Freewill is too magnificent, extensive, and 
copious a term; by which the common people 
suppose (as both the force and the nature of the 
word require) that a power is meant, which can 
turn itself freely to either side,, and is of .such ex 
tent as not to yield or be subjected to any one. 
Did they know that the fact is otherwise, and 
that scarcely a very small particle of a little spark 
is signified by it, and that this very small particle 
is quite inefficacious by itself; nay, the captive 
and slave of the devil ; it would be strange if they 
did not stone us, as mockers and deceivers, for 
uttering a sound so very far different from our 
meaning : and this too, when it is not even a settled 
and agreed thing amongst us yet, what we really 
do mean! For "he who speaks deceitfully," says 
the wise man, " is detestable ;" f especially, if he 
do so in matters of piety, where eternal salvation 
is at stake. 

Seeing, then, that we have lost the substance 

e Nomen. ] He does not mean that God should be called by 
this name ; but that it is a property, which should be to him 
as a name ; what separates the individual, in the recognition 
of others, from all that resemble him. 

f OdibilisJ] I do not find any words like these, either in the 
Canonical Scriptures, or in the Apocrypha. Some have sup 
posed Luther to refer to Eccle. xxxvii. 3. " O wicked imagina 
tion, whence earnest thou in to cover earth with deceit ?" 


PART. I. which is expressed by so glorious a name, or 
" rather have never possessed it (the Pelagians, 
indeed, would have it that we do ; beguiled, as 
you are, by this word) ; why do we so obstinately 
retain an empty name, to the mocking and endan 
gering of the common people which believe ? 

It is just the same sort of wisdom, as that by 
which kings and princes either retain, or claim 
and vaunt themselves to possess, empty titles of 
kingdoms and countries ; when they are almost 
beggars all the while, and are as far as possible 
from possessing those kingdoms and countries. 
This, however, is a folly that may be borne ; since 
they neither deceive nor beguile any one, but feed 
themselves on vanity, to no profit at all. But in 
the case before us, the soul-danger and the de 
ception are most injurious. 

Who would not laugh at, or rather hate, that 
unseasonable innovator in the use of words, who, 
contrary to all common usage, should endeavour 
to introduce such a mode of speaking as to call a 
beggar rich; not for having any money of his 
own, but because some king might perchance give 
him his ? Especially, if he should do this, as 
though he were in earnest ; without any figure of 
speech, such as antiphrasis or irony. So, if he 
should call one that is sick unto death a man in 
perfect health ; because some other person, who is 
in health, might possibly make him whole, like him 
self. So, if he should call a most illiterate idiot a 
very learned man; because some other person 
might possibly give him letters. It is just the same 
sort of thing which is said here man has Free 
will : yes, forsooth: if God should give him His. 
By such an abuse of speech, any man might boast 
himself of any thing : as for instance, that he is 
Lord of heaven and earth; that is, if God would 
but give it him. Such, however, is not the lan 
guage of theologians, but of stage-players and 


swaggerers.* Our words ought to be plain, pure, sc.xxv. 

and sober : h what Paul calls "sound and irre 

prehensible." (Tit. ii. 7, 8.) 

If, then, we be not willing to give up the term 
altogether, which would be the safest expedient, 
and most consistent with piety ; still, let us teach 
men to keep good faith in using it only within 
certain limits ; by which Freewill shall be con 
ceded to man, only with respect to such sub 
stances as are inferior to himself, and not to those 
which are his superiors. In other words, let him 
know that he has, with regard to his faculties and 
possessions, a right of using them of doing, and 
of forbearing to do according to his own free 
will ; although this very right be also controlled 
by God s alone free will, wheresoever he sees fit 
to interpose. But in his actings towards God, in 
things pertaining to salvation or damnation, he 
has no free will, but is the captive, the subject, 
and the servant, either of the will of God, or of 
the will of Satan. 1 

Quadniplator:im.~\ This name was applied, under the Roman 
law, to public informers, who gained a fourth part of the 
accused s goods, or of the fine imposed upon him : or, as others 
say, because they accused persons, who, upon conviction, 
used to be condemned to pay fourfold; as those guilty of ille 
gal usury, gaming, or the like. But chiefly mercenary and 
false accusers, or litigants, were called by this name ; and also 
those judges who, making themselves parties in a cause, de 
cided in their own favour. Seneca calls those who, for small 
services, sought great returns, quadruplatores beneficiorum 
suorum; as overrating and exaggerating them. Luther, 
however, may possibly have no allusion to these customs, but 
use the term, according to its essential meaning, for a bouncer* 
or exaggerator ; insinuating, that Erasmus s statements were 
of this kind. But his uniting it with Histrionum leads us 
rather to some notorious class, or community of persons. 

h Propria, pura, sobria.] Prop. plain, as opposed to| figu 
rative ; pur. simple, as opposed to ornamented ; sobr. tem 
perate, as opposed to extravagant. 

1 Luther s distinction here is neither profitable, nor just, 
nor safe : unprofitable, because the amount of the exception is 
small, and hard to be defined ; unjust, because God does, in 
fact, interpose always " He worketh all things after the coun- 


PART i. I have said thus much on the chapters of your 
Preface, which even in themselves contain almost 


the whole of our matter ; more of it, I might say, 
Luther " than the body of the book which follows. But the 
concludes sum of these is what might be dispatched by this 
h s review short dilemma. Your preface complains either of 
mus sPre- the words of God, or of the words of man : if, of the 
face, byre- words of man, it is all written in vain, and I have 
to"dfiem- no concern with it; if, of the words of God, it is 
ma, and altogether profane. So that, it would have been 
shor^work more profitable to make this our question ; are the 
of some of words, about which we dispute, God s words or 
his sharp man s words ? But, perhaps the Proem which 
follows, and the disputation itself, will discuss this 

What you repeat in the conclusion of your 
preface, does not at all disturb me : as * that you 
should call my dogmas fables, and useless ; that 
you should say, that we ought rather, after the 
example of Paul, to preach Christ crucified ; that 
wisdom must be taught amongst them that are per 
fect; that Scripture has its language variously 
attempered to the state of the hearers ; which 
makes you think, that it is left to the prudence 
and charity of the teacher, to preach what he may 
deem suitable to his neighbour. 

All this is absurdity and ignorance ; I also 
preach nothing but Jesus crucified : but " Christ 
crucified" brings all these things along with it; 
and brings, moreover, that very wisdom amongst 
them that are perfect : since there is no other wis 
dom to be taught amongst Christians, than that 
w r hich is hidden in a mystery and belongs to the 

sel of his own will." " Not a sparrow falleth to the ground 
without your Father ;" " He is all (things) in all (things)." 
Unsafe ; because, if Freewill be admitted any where, why not 
every where ? who will yield to our authority, when we say, 
it is here, but it is not there? The truth is, man., is ajjree- 
agent, though not n. free-wilier , in spiritual things ; no 
more in temporal things, and in his dealings with, the inferior 
creatures. (See Sect. xxiv. note z .) 


perfect; not to children/ of a Jewish and legal SC - XXVI - 
people, which glory in works without faith. This 
is Paul s meaning in 1 Cor. ii. unless you would 
have the preaching of Christ crucified to mean 
no more than the sounding out of these letters, 
f Christ was crucified/ 

As to those expressions, 6 God is angry/ 
( hath fury/ f hateth/ grieveth/ pitieth/ re- 
penteth/ when we know that none of these things 
happeneth to God ; 

You are looking for a knot in a bulrush. 1 These 
expressions do not make Scripture obscure, or 
such as must be modulated according to the 
varieties of the hearer; except that some people 
are fond of making obscurities where there are 
none. These are matters of grammar : the sen 
timent is expressed in figurative words; but 
those, such as even schoolboys understand. How 
ever, we are talking about doctrines, not about 
figures of speech, in this cause of ours. 

k Pueros.~\ Piter, opposed to perfectos ; tv TO?? Te\e/o<s The 
men of full age , opposed to babes. (1 Cor. ii. 6.) 

1 Nodus in scirpo quceritur. ] A proverb for stumbling upon 
plain ground. 






Canonical Scriptures to be the standard of appeal. Human autho 
rity all against Luther admitted but depreciated. 

]STow, therefore, when about to enter upon your 
disputation, you promise to plead the Canonical 
Scriptures only, since Luther does not hold himself 
bound by the authority of any other writer. 

I am satisfied, and accept your promise : albeit, 
you do not make this promise on the ground of 
judging those other writers unprofitable to the 
cause, but to spare yourself useless labour; for 
you do not quite approve this audacity of mine, 
or whatever else the principle, by which I regulate 
myself in this instance, must be called. 

You are not a little moved, forsooth, by so nu 
merous a series of the most learned men, who 
have been approved by the common consent of so 
many ages : amongst whom, are to be found men 
of the greatest skill in sacred literature, some of 
the most holy of our Martyrs, and many celebrated 
for their miracles. Add to these a number of 
more modern theologians ; so many Universities, 
Councils, Bishops, Pontiffs. In short, on the one 
side stands erudition, genius, numbers, grandeur, 
high rank, fortitude, sanctification, miracles, and 
what not ? But on my side, only Wickliff and one 
other, Laurentius Valla (howbeit Augustine also, 
whom you pass over, is altogether with me); whose 
weight is nothing, in comparison with the former. 


There remains none but Luther a private man, SECT. I. 

a man of yesterday and his friends : who have 

neither so much learning, nor so much genius ; no 
numbers, no grandeur, no sanctification, no mira 
cles they cannot even heal a lame horse. They 
make a parade of Scripture; which they never 
theless consider to be equivocal, a as well as the 
opposite party. They boast of the Spirit also ; 
but they give no signs of possessing it. And a 
great many other particulars ; which you could spe 
cify, if you pleased. b There is nothing on our 
side, therefore, but what the wolf acknowledged 
in the devoured nightingale ; 6 You are a voice, 
said he, and nothing else. They talk/ you 
say; e and, for this only, expect to be believed. 

I confess, my Erasmus, that you are not with 
out good reason moved by all these things. I 
was so much affected by them myself for more 
than ten years, that I think no other person was 
ever equally harassed by such conflicts : and it 
was utterly incredible to me, that this Troy of 
mine, which, for so long a time, and during so 
many wars, had proved itself to be invincible, 
could ever be taken. Nay, I call God for a re 
cord upon my soul, that I should have continued 
in my opinion, and should, to this day, be still 
impressed with the same feelings, if it were not 
that the goadings of my own conscience, and 
the evidence of facts, constrain me to judge dif 
ferently. You can have no difficulty in conceiving, 
that, although my heart be not a heart of stone, 
pet if it were one, it might have melted in the 
struggle and collision with such waves and tides 
is 1 brought upon myself, by daring to do an act, 

a Quam tamen dubiam habent. ] The pretended ambiguity of 
Cripture is a point on which Erasmus laid great stress, and 
/hich Luther, hereafter, most powerfully and satisfactorily 

b A vaunting insinuation expressed in the words of yEneas 
/F,n. iv. 333, 334) ; by which Erasmus would lead his reader 
J understand, that he had a great deal still behind. 


PART ii. which would, as I perceived, cause all the autho 
rity of these persons whom you have recounted, 
to come down, with all the violence of a deluge, 
upon my own head. 

But this is not the place for me to construct a 
history of my life, or of my works ; nor have I taken 
this book in hand with the design of commending 
myself, but that I might extol the grace of God. 
What sort of a man I am, and with what spirit 
and design I have been hurried into these trans 
actions, I commit d to that Being, who knows that 
all these things have been effected, not by my own 
Freewill, but by His : howbeit, even the world 
itself ought to have become sensible of this, long 
ago. It is evidently a very invidious situation 
into which you throw me, by this exordium of 
yours : from which it is not easy for me to extri 
cate myself, without trumpeting my own praises, 
and censuring so many of the Fathers. But I sha 
be short. In erudition, genius, numbers, autho 
rity, and every thing else, I allow the cause to b 
tried at your judgment-seat, and acknowledg 
myself the inferior. 

c Luther claims respect, here, for three properties of h 
mind and conduct ; conscientiousness, scrupulous investiga 
tion of truth, and full consciousnesss of the evil he was encoun 
tering. Not only was his light poured in very gradually, an 
admitted very cautiously, but, from first to last, he would hav 
been often glad to hold his tongue. When he spoke, or wrote 
it was because God s word was in his heart as a burning fir 
shut up in his bones, and he was weary with forbearing, an 
could not stay. (Jer. xx. 9.) 

d Commtndo.~] Properly, to c commit as a deposit into th 
hands of a trustee. I leave my character and my conduct, i 
these particulars, with my God. 

e Luther considers himself as arrayed, in opposition to th 
Fathers, before the judgment-seat of Erasmus. His defenc 
must consist of self-praise and abuse of the Fathers. He de 
clines making such a defence, and cuts the matter short b 
acknowledging his inferiority ; and, that in all the points o 
competition which Erasmus had introduced. Dr. Milne 
understands him to reserve three ; viz. the Spirit, miracles 
sanctification. But this does not appear to be the fair con 
struction and import of the original text. If I collect th 


But if I should turn round upon my judge, and SECT. i. 

propose these three questions to you, what is 

the manifestation of the Spirit? what are Mira 
cles? what is Sanctification ? f you would be 

sense aright, he makes two concessions : etlam tc judice ; I 
will allow the cause to be tried even at your judgment-seat ; 
omnibus aliis ; I reserve not a single point of superiority for 
myself. (Did Luther indeed mean to contest the palm on any 
of these three grounds of excellency r) But then he abates the 
force of his concessions, by remarking, with respect to those 
three distinctions which alone are of any value in the number 
and variety claimed for his adversaries, that, in the first place, 
Erasmus could not define them ; and, in the next, he could not 
prove concerning any individual of his vaunted host, that he 
possessed them. (See Miln. Ecclesi. Hist. vol. iv. part ii. 
p. 863.) 

It may be well, just to notice the order, in which Luther 
hence proceeds, in his animadversions upon Erasmus s Proem. 

1. You cannot prove that they possessed these properties. 

2. If they had them, they did not come at them by Freewill. 

3. Show ye the same. 4. At least define the power. 5. How ab 
surd your conduct with respect to the Fathers. G. Some desul 
tory objections such as, strange that God should have 
tolerated such errors in his church : Scripture is not clear 
met and repelled. 7. Erasmus reduced to a dilemma. 

1 By manifestation of the Spirit, Luther (Avith reference to 
Erasmus s taunt, quern nusquam ostendunt ) means, how 
men are to prove that they have the Spirit dwelling and walk 
ing in them. By miracles , how the reality or falsehood of 
affirmed miracles is to be proved. By sanctification , the 
state of a saint ; that is, of one effectually called by the Holy 
Ghost : this effectual calling, or separation of the Spirit, being that 
act by which the eternally separated of the Father (Jude ver. 1.) 
are drawn into a realized and recognised union with the sepa 
rated one, even the Lord Jesus Christ ; in whom (Heb. ii. 11.), 
according to eternal purpose and covenant, they are separated to 
God. So that separation from and unto constitutes the essence 
of sanctification ; into which the Scripture use of the term is 
every where resolvable : not a gradual work, the result of 
repeated actions of the Spirit upon the substance of the natural 
soul, as human authors fondly teach ; but one complete and 
final operation, by which the natural soul (Y^x 1 /) is made a 
spiritual soul (TTVCU/J.U) ; as holy, with respect to its own sub 
stance, as it ever will be in eternity. (See 1 Pet. i. 2, 22, 23. 
2 Thess. ii. 13. John vi. 37, 44, 63, 64. See also the K\IJTO^ 
ofy/otv, called to be saints, of the epistolary inscriptions.) 
Luther very properly distinguishes this sanctimonia, sanc 
tum esse vel fuisse , from the haberc spiritual; that is, from 
the presence of the Holy Ghost with, and his consequent actings 
in and by, the renewed Spirit. 





The excel 
lencies of 
the Fa 
thers were 
not of, or 
for Free 


found too inexpert and too ignorant (so far as I 
know you from your letters and from your books) 
to answer me one syllable. Or, if I should 
go on, and demand of you, which of all these 
heroes, of whom you make your boast, you could 
certainly show to have been, or to be sanctified, 
or to have had the Spirit, or to have displayed 
real miracles ; my conviction is, that you would 
have to work very hard, and all in vain. g Much 
that you say is borrowed from common use and 
public discourse ; h which loses more than you sup 
pose of its credit and authority, when summoned to 
the bar of conscience. True is the proverb, e Many 
pass for saints on earth, whose souls are in hell/ 

But let us grant you, if you please, that even 
all of them were sanctified, had the Spirit, and 
wrought miracles (a concession which you do not 
ask) ; tell me, was any one of them sanctified, did 
any one of them receive the Spirit and work mira 
cles, in the name or by the power of Freewill; or, 
to confirm the doctrine of Freewill ? God forbid, 
you will say : all these things were done in the 
name and by the power of Jesus Christ ; and in 
support of the doctrine of Christ. Why, then, 
do you adduce their sanctification, their having 
the Spirit, and their miracles, in support of the 
doctrine of Freewill ; for which they were not 
given and wrought? Their miracles, therefore, 
their having the Spirit, and their sanctification, 
are all ours ; who preach Jesus Christ, in oppo 
sition to the powers and works of men. Now, 
what wonder is it, if those men (holy, spiritual, 
and workers of miracles as they were) being 
every now and then forestalled by the flesh, have 
spoken and have acted, according to the flesh? 
what happened more than once to the Apostles 

B Multum sed frustru sudatorum .] Horace s ( sudet multfrm 
frustraque laboret : implying great and inefficacious toil. 

h Ex usu et piiblids sermonibus. ] Us. men s saying what is 
usually said, what others say. Publ. senn. what men talk in 
public ; contrasted with private meditation and the secret 
testimony of their own hearts. 


themselves, when living- under the immediate eye SECT, in- 

of Christ. For you do not deny, but even assert, 

that Freewill is not a matter of the Spirit, or of 
Christ, but a mere human affair; so that the Spirit, 
which was promised, that he might glorify Christ, 
cannot possibly preach Freewill. If, therefore, the 
Fathers have sometimes preached Freewill; as 
suredly they have spoken by the flesh, as men, and 
not by the Spirit of God: much less have they 
wrought miracles, that they might support it. So 
that your allegation respecting the Fathers, as 
having been sanctified, had the Spirit, and wrought 
miracles, is inapplicable : since it is not Freewill, 
but the dogma of Jesus Christ 1 as opposed to that 
of Freewill, which is proved thereby. 

But come now, ye that are on the side of Free- Luther 
will, and assert that a dogma of this sort is true ; jj^ 11 ^ ges 
that is, has come from the Spirit of God ; still, shew ef- 
still I say, manifest the Spirit, publish your mira- ctsof ,, 

-,. J i ,.,. 1 ,. . ji Freevvill,m 

cles, display your sanctincation. Assuredly you, the three 

who assert, owe these things to us who deny, particular 

The Spirit, sanctification, miracles, ought not to ci^TwiUch 

be demanded of us who deny ; of you who assert, he has se- 

they ought. Since a negative advances nothing, le f c ed out 

J , P , . &> of Eras- 

IS nothing, is not bound to prove any thing, nor mus scata- 

ought to be proved itself. An affirmative ought lo s ue - 
to be proved. You affirm the power of Freewill ; 
a human substance. But no miracle has ever yet 
been seen, or heard of, as performed by God, for 
any dogma in support of a human thing; but only 
for one in support of a divine thing. We have it 
in charge to receive no dogma whatsoever, which 
has not been first proved by divine attestations. 
(Deut. xviii. 15 22.) Moreover, the Scripture calls 
man vanity and a lie ; k which is in effect saying, 

1 Jesu Christi dogma. ] Not a dogma taught by Jesus 
Christ; but a dogma of which He is the subject: the 
truth as it is in Jesus ; which is directly opposite to this fancy 
of Freewill. 

k Ps. xxxix. 5. Ixii. 9. 



PART ii. tliat all human things are vanities and lies. Come 
then ; come,, I say, and prove your dogma in sup 
port of a human vanity and lie,, to be true. 
Where is now your manifestation of the Spirit ? 
where, your sanctification ? where, your mira 
cles ? I see talents, erudition, and authority 
but God hath given these to the Gentiles also. 

And yet, it is not great miracles to which we 
will compel you; such as that of healing a lame 
horse; 1 lest you should complain of a carnal age : m 
howbeit, God is wont to confirm his doctrines by 
miracles, without any regard to the carnality of the 
age. He is not moved by the merits or demerits 
of a carnal age, but by mere pity and grace; and 
by a love of establishing souls in solid truth, unto 
His glory. n You are at liberty to work a miracle 
as small as you please. Nay, by way of pro 
voking your Baal to exertion, I jeer you; and 
challenge you to create even a single frog, in the 
name and by the power of Freewill : of which 
the impious Gentile magicians in Egypt were 
enabled to create many. For I will not put you 
to the trouble of creating lice ; which they also 
were not able to bring forth. 1 will set you a still 
lighter task : take but a single gnat or louse (since 
you tempt and mock my God Avith your fleer about 
healing a lame horse) ; and if, with the whole 
united force, and the whole conspiring efforts, both 
of your God and of yourselves, you shall be able 
to kill him in the name and by the power of Free 
will you shall be proclaimed conquerors ; and it 

1 Equum claudum sanareJ] Erasmus s burlesque illustration 
of their want of miracles. Luther plays with it : we will not 
call you to practise upon so huge an animal as an horse ; we 
will be content with something; less. 

171 Alluding- to the Lord s, " a wicked and adulterous genera 
tion seeketh after a sign." Matt. xvi. 4. xii. 39. 

n Luther confines the design of God in his miracles to the 
gracious object of them : but does not God also design, by 
these seals set upon his truth, to convict and render inexcusa 
ble the reprobate and ungodly ? 


shall be admitted that you have maintained your SECT.III. 

cause, and we will come presently and adore this 

God of yours the marvellous slayer of a louse ! 
Not that I deny your having the power even to 
remove mountains : but because it is one thing to 
have it asserted, that some act has been per 
formed by the power of Freewill ; and another, to 
have it proved. 

What I have said of miracles, I say also of 
sanctification. If, in so great a series of ages and 
of men, and of all things which you have named, 
you shall be able to show a single work (let it be 
but the lifting up of a straw from the ground) ; or a 
single word (let it be but the syllable my"); or a 
single thought (let it be but the feeblest sigh) 
proceeding from Freewill by which they have 
either applied themselves to grace, or earned the 
Spirit, or obtained pardon of sin, or have nego- 
ciated any thing (let it be as diminutive as you 
please we will not talk about their sanctification) 
with God; be ye again the victors, and we the van 
quished ! But then it must be through the power 
and in the name of Freewill ! For, as to what 
is done in men through the power of a divine 
creation, it has Scripture testimonies in abun 
dance. You certainly ought to exhibit some work 
of this kind, if you would not make yourselves 
ridiculous teachers, by spreading dogmas through 
out the world, with all this superciliousness and 
authority, about a thing of which you produce no 
record. For those shall be called dreams, which 
produce no result whatsoever (the most disgrace 
ful thing imaginable) to persons of so great con 
sequence, living through such a series of ages, 
men of the greatest erudition and sanctity, who 
have also the power of working miracles. The 
issue will be, that we prefer the Stoics before you; 
N ho, although they too described a wise man such 
as they never saw, still endeavoured to exhibit the 
likeness of some part of him in their own character. 


PART ii. But you have absolutely nothing to show; not 

- even the shadow of your dogma. 

So again, with respect to the Spirit: if, out of 
all the assertors of Freewill,, you can show me one, 
who hath possessed even so small a degree of 
strength of mind, or of good feeling, as might 
enable him to despise a single farthing, to forego 
a single cast of the die, or to forgive a single word 
or letter of injury (I will not talk of despising 
wealth, life, and fame), in the name and through 
the power of Freewill ; take the palm again, and 
I will be content to be sold as your captive. You 
ought at least to show us this, after all your big 
swelling words p in boast of Freewill; else, you 
will again seem to be either wrangling about 
goats* wool, or, like the noble Argian, seeing 
plays in an empty theatre. q 

SECT iv. But, in contradiction to your statement, I shall 
easily shew you that holy men, such as you vaunt 
y urse lf to possess, as often as they come to pray 
or plead with God, approach him in an utter for- 

Freewiii, getfulness of their own Freewill; despairing of 

Sub liastam libenter il)imus.~\ The custom of selling under 
the spear was derived from the sales of booty taken in war ; 
in which the spear wa? set up, and the spoil sold under it, to 
denote whence the property had been obtained. So constant, 
however, was the use of the spear in auctions, that hasta is 
sometimes put absolutely for the auction itself; and sub 
hasta venire corresponds to our coming under the hammer. 
Luther applies it here, in agreement with its original use ; 
he will freely come to the spear, that he may be sold as a 
part of Erasmus s spoil. 

P Buccd verborum."] The puffed or distended cheek is used 
to express anger, pride, or boastfulness- Horace has 
iratus buccas inflet ; Persius, scloppo tumidas intendis rum- 
pere buccas. 

1 Land caprind, vacua theafro. ] The first allusion (Hor. 1. 
Epist. xviii. 15.) charges him with contentious trifling; 
like the man who quarrels with his friend about goats hair, 
whether it should be called wool or bristles; fighting for 
straws the second fuit haud ignobilis Argis (Hor. 2. 
Epist. ii. 128 130, &c.) with indulging a harmless but disor 
dered fancy. If you cannot show us any moral effects produced 
by it, Freewill must be either a thing of no value, or an illusion. 


themselves, and imploring nothing but pure grace SECT.V. 

only; which they acknowledge to be far removed 

from their own deservings. Such a man does however 
Augustine frequently prove himself to have been ; disunite 
such did Bernard, when, in his dying-hour, he about it. 
said, ( I have lost my time, for I have lived abo 
minably/" I do not see any power which applies 
itself for grace alleged in these expressions, but 
all the power which a man has, accused of abso 
lutely turning away from it. 8 And yet, these self 
same holy men sometimes spoke a different lan 
guage about Freewill, in their disputations. Just 
what happens, as I perceive, to all mankind : they 
are one sort of people, whilst intent upon words 
and reasonings; and another, when feeling and 
acting. In the former instance, they speak a lan 
guage which differs from their previous feelings ; 
in the latter, their feelings contradict their pre 
vious language. But men are to be measured by 
their feelings, rather than their discourse; whether 
they be pious, or impious. 

" But we give you still more : we do not demand Luther de- 
miracles, the Spirit, sanctification ; we return to J^"^* n 
the dogma itself : demanding only, that you O f Free- 
shall at least shew us, what work, what word, will ; a spa- 
what thought, this power of the free will stirs up, ofitspmrti, 
or attempts to perform, in order that it may apply powers, 
itself to grace. It is not enough to say, there is JSfSdJ" 
a power/ ( there is a power/ there is a certain dents. 
power, I say, in the free will ; for what is easier 
than to say this ? Nor is this worthy of those most 
learned and most holy men, who have been ap 
proved by so many ages. ( The babe must be 
named/ as the German proverb has it. You must 
define what that power is, what it does, what it suf 
fers, what are its accidents. For example ; speak 
ing as one most dull of apprehension, I would ask, 

r Perditi. ] More perditi hominis ; flagitiose/ nequiter, cor- 

8 Non nisi aversa fuerit.~] Opposed to ad gratiam sese appli- 
cet j aversation and disgust, instead of desire and seeking. 


PART ii. is it the office of this power either, to pray, or to 
fast, or to labour, or to keep under the body, or 
to give alms, or to do any thing else of this kind, 
or does it make any attempt at these things ? If 
it be a power, it will be trying to achieve some 
thing. But here, you are more dumb than the 
Seriphian frogs, and fishes. 1 

And how is it possible that you should define 
it, when, according to your own testimony, you 
are still uncertain what the power itself is ; at 
variance with each other, and each of you incon 
sistent with himself? What will become of the 
definition, when the thing defined means one 
thing in one place, and another in another? 

But let it be granted, that, since the time of 
Plato, there has, at length, been some sort of 
agreement amongst you, about the power itself: 
let it further be defined, as its office, that it prays, 
or fasts, or does something of this sort, which still, 
perhaps, lies concealed in the maze of Plato s 
Ideas/ 11 Who shall assure us, that the dogma is 
true, that it is well-pleasing to God, and that we 
are safe in maintaining it? x Especially, when you 
confess yourselves that it is a human thing, which 
has not the testimony of the Spirit; for that it 

1 Seriphus was an island in the ^Egean sea ; one of the Spo- 
rades ; where, according to .Lilian, the frogs never croaked ; 
but, when removed to another place, became more noisy and 
clamorous than others. The latter part of the story., how 
ever, is differently told, and in a manner more consistent with 
the proverb ; that they retained their dumbness, when trans 
ferred and mingled with others. Hence the saying, BaT/>oxs 
CK 2f/>/0, for a silent man, who can neither speak, nor sing. 

u Platonis IdeLs.] A term used by Plato to denote the first 
forms of things ; the sort of mental draught, according to 
which nature (in the language of a heathen philosopher and 
would it were only professed heathens who speak so !) has 
framed all her substances. Plato ideas vocat ex quibus omnia 
quaecunque videmus fiunt, et ad quas omnia formantur. 

x Nosque tuto rectum agere, i. e. in rectum.] More literally, 
safe in going straight forwards. Quasi in rectum agere 

" Itcrque 
Non agit in rectum." ..." in rectum exire catervas." 



was bandied by the philosophers, and had a SECT.V. 

being in the world, before Christ came, and 

before the Spirit was sent from heaven. Thus it 
is made most certain, that this dogma was not 
sent from heaven, but had been born long before, 
out of the earth : so that a great deal of testimony 
is necessary, to confirm it as certain and true. 

Let us, then, be private men and few, whilst 
yon are even publicans 1 and a multitude; let us 
be barbarians, and you most learned ; let us be 
stupid, and you most ingenious ; us, men of yes 
terday, and you older than Deucalion ; us, men of 
no acceptance ; you, men who have received the 
approbation of ages; us, in fine, sinners, carnal, 
sottish ; z you, men fitted to excite fear in the very 
devils, by your sanctity, the Spirit which is in you, 
and your miracles. Give us, at least, the right of 
Turks and Jews ; that of demanding a reason for 
your dogma, agreeably to what your great patron 
St. Peter* has commanded you. We ask this, 
however, with the greatest modesty ; inasmuch 

y PubUcani.~\ Not without meaning used here instead of 
publici, as opposed to privati. The publicans were govern 
ment-officers, employed in collecting the public revenues ; 
which they contracted for at a price, and lived upon the pro 
duce. They were chiefly of the equestrian order, and held in 
honour. Erant publicani equites Romani, qui tributa et pub- 
lica vectigalia questus sui causa conducebant. Publicani 
autem, sunt, qui publico fruuntur. Flos equitum Roma- 
norum, ornamentum civitatis, firmamentum reipub. Publica- 
norum ordine continetur. Luther uses the name, if I under 
stand him aright, equivocally. Whilst he gives them the glory 
of publicity, he hints at their support being derived from the 
focus, and the infamous celebrity which they had acquired by 
their exactions. In fact, what were the barefaced traffickers 
in Indulgences, such as Tetzel and others, but publicans of 
the worst stamp ? I do not find any authority for the word 
publicanus, but as referred to this office. 

z Socordcs.~] Quasi sine corde. Not only sinful, instead of 
sanctified ; and carnal, instead of having the Spirit ; but abso 
lutely without natural intellect and feeling. 

a Referring to 1 Pet. iii. 15. " And be ready always to give 
an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope 
that is in you, with meekness and fear." Petrus vester. Your 
tutelar saint and pretended founder. 


PART ii. as we do not demand that it be proved to us, by 
sanctification, by the Spirit., and by miracles., as we 
might do according to your own law ; which is, to 
demand these things of others. Nay, we even 
allow you not to give us any instance of thought, 
word, or deed in your dogma; but to teach us the 
simple, naked proposition. Declare the dogma 
itself, at least ; what you wish to be understood 
by it ; what is its form. b 

If you will not, or cannot give us an example 
of it, let us at least try to give you one. Imitate 
the Pope and his cardinals at least, who say, 
Do what we say, but do not according to our 
works/ Even so, do ye also say what work that 
power requires to be performed by its subjects, 
and we will apply ourselves to it ; leaving you to 
yourselves. What! shall we not even gain this from 
you ? The more you exceed us in numbers, the 
more ancient you are, the greater, the better in all 
respects than we; by so much the more disgrace 
ful is it to you, that you are not able to prove 
your dogma by the miracle of even slaying a 
louse, or by any very small affection of the Spirit, 
or by any very small work of holiness to us, who 
are a mere nothing in your presence, and are 
wishing to learn and perform your dogma. 
Nay, you are not even able to exemplify it in a 
single deed or word. More than this, you are not 
even able to declare the very form or meaning of 
the dogma (such a thing as never was heard of), 
that we, at least, might imitate it. Delightful 
teachers of Freewill ! What are ye now, but a 
voice, and nothing else ? Who are those now, 
Erasmus, that make boast of the Spirit, and show 

b Qudformd. ] In a dialectic sense. A dialecticis sumitur 
pro specie subjecta generi. < Formae sunt, in quas genus 
dividitur. Specificate, or < define it i. e. enumerate and 
combine all the several ideas contained in it. We do not ask 
miracles, &c. ; we do not even ask an example, by vvav of 
illustrating it ; but we do require a clear and explicit affirma 
tion of what you mean j a full and precise description of the 
supposed substance. 


nothing of it ? that only speak, and forthwith SECT. V. 

expect to be believed. Are not these admired 

ones of yours, the men who do all this ; though so 
extolled to the skies ? who do not even speak, 
and yet make such great boasts and demands? 

We ask it as a favour, therefore, of yourself 
and of your party, my Erasmus, that you would 
at least grant to us, that, being terrified with the 
danger incurred by our conscience, we may be 
allowed to indulge our fears, or at least to defer 
our assent to a dogma, which you perceive your 
self to be nothing but an empty word, and the 
sounding of so many syllables ; (to wit, There is 
such a thing as Freewill ; there is such a thing 
as Freewill ; ) if you should even have attained the 
summit of your object, arid all your positions 
should have been proved and allowed. Then, 
again, it is still uncertain, even amidst your own 
party, whether this mere word has a being or not ; 
since they are at variance one with another, and 
not agreed each with himself. It is a most unfair 
thing; nay, the most wretched thing imaginable, 
that the consciences of those whom Christ hath 
redeemed with his own blood, should be harassed 
with the mere phantom of a single petty word, 
and that word of doubtful existence. Yet, if we 
do not suffer ourselves to be thus harassed, we 
are accused of an unheard of pride, for having 
despised so many Fathers, of so many ages, who 
have asserted the doctrine of Freewill ; when the 
truth is, that they have laid down no distinct pro 
positions at all concerning Freewill, as you per 
ceive from what has been said; and the dogma of 
Freewill is set up under the cover of their name, 
whilst its maintainers are unable to exhibit either 

c Qui nc dicit is quldem^] You are not even the nightingale. 
(See above, Sect, i.) They had voice enough, when speaking 
for themselves ; but none with which to answer the questions 
and demands of their opponents. 




Erasmus s 
tion, cru 
elty, want 
of discern 
upon him. 


its species, or its name. d It is. thus, that they have 
contrived to delude the world with a lying word! 6 
And here, Erasmus., I summon your own and 
not another s counsel f to my aid; who persuadest 
us above, that we ought to desist from questions 
of this kind,, and rather to teach Christ crucified, 
and such things as may suffice for Christian piety. 
Such has now, for a long time, been the nature of 
our questions and discussions. For what else are 
we aiming at, but that the simplicity and purity of 
Christ s doctrine may prevail ; and that those 
dogmas, which have been invented and introduced 
by men, may be abandoned and disregarded. 
But, whilst you give us this advice, you do not 
act it; but just the contrary. You w r rite Diatribes, 
you celebrate the decrees of Popes, you boast in 
the authority of men, and try all means of hurry 
ing us into those matters which are strangers and 
aliens from the holy Scriptures, and of agitating 
unnecessary topics; in order that w r e may corrupt 
and confound the simplicity and genuineness of 
Christian piety with the additions of men. Hence 
we readily perceive, that you have not given us 
this counsel from your heart ; and that you do 

d Neque speciem ncque nomen,~] They can neither define it, 
nor find an appropriate name by which to express it. 

e Mendacl vocabulo.~] Though they cannot find a name for it, 
they have got a word for it : but that word is a liar ; for it pro 
claims the will to be free, which is really in bondage. Logi 
cians distinguish vocabulum from nomen : the former is 
arbitrary and general ; the latter descriptive and precise. What 
you cannot name (according to this distinction) you may speak 
of. Differunt nomina et vocabula ; quia nomina finita sunt et 
significant res proprias ; vocabula autem infinita, et res com 
munes designant. 

f Appellamus.~] A forensic expression, applied to advocate, 
witnesses, and judge ; but to each, in consistency with its pri 
mary meaning of addressing a person by name j Trpoira^opcvu) 
Luther would avail himself of Erasmus s own testimony and 
advice, now that he has shewn the dogma of Freewill to be this 
unauthorized and unprofitable one. Erasmus had recommended 
that all such should be suppressed. 


not write any thing seriously, but trust to the vain SECT. vi. 

and puerile ornaments of your language^ as that 

which may enable you to lead the world whither 
soever you please. Meanwhile you, in point of 
fact, lead it no whither; for you utter nothing but 
sheer contradictions throughout the whole, and in 
every part : so that you would be most fitly cha 
racterised by the man who should call you Pro 
teus, or Vertumnus 1 himself ; or who should 
accost you with the words of Christ, and say, 
"Physician, heal thyself!" It is disgraceful to 
the teacher, when the fault, which he reproves, 
reproves himself. 

Until you shall have proved your affirmative, 
therefore, we persist in our negative ; and venture 
to make it our boast at the tribunal of our judge 
(even though that judge should be the whole 
band of holy men, which you vaunt yourself as 
having all on your side ; or, rather, should be 
the whole world) ; that we do not, and ought 
not to admit a dogma, which is really nothing, 
and of which it cannot be shewn, with certainty, 
what it is. We will, moreover, charge you with 
an incredible degree of presumption, or insanity, 
in demanding that this dogma should be admitted 
by us ; without any reason, except that it pleases 
your High Mightinesses who are so many, so 
great, and so ancient to assert the being of a 

s Inanibus bullis verlorum.~] Prettinesses of style. Bulla 
is properly a bubble, made by the boiling of water, and is 
thence applied to divers ornaments of dress ; particularly to 
one in the shape of a heart, worn by the Roman youth : of 
which the quality depended upon their rank, or degree of nobi 
lity. This they dedicated to the Lares, when they took the 
manly gown. 

h Vertumnus had, amongst the Latins, the same property of 
assuming all shapes, which Proteus had amongst the Greeks. 

Luther does not tell us to whom he is indebted for this 
int triral aphorism. Erasmus had played the physician, pre 
scribing silence with respect to some dogmas ; his own is 
shewn to be one of them. 


1 ART ii. thing, which you confess yourselves to be a mere 
- nothing. Is it really a conduct worthy of Chris 
tian teachers, to delude the poor wretched common 
people, in the matter of piety, with a mere no 
thing ; as though it were a something of great 
moment to their salvation ! Where is now that 
sharpness of Grecian wit, which heretofore in 
vented lies, having at least some shew of beauty; 
but on this subject utters only naked and undis 
guised falsehoods ? Where is now that Latin 
industry, not inferior to Grecian, which in this 
instance so beguiles, and is beguiled, with the 
vainest of words ? k But thus it happens to un 
wary, or designing, readers of books : they make 
those dogmas of the Fathers and of the Saints which 
are the offspring of their infirmity, to be all of the 
highest authority ; the fault not being that of the 
authors, but of the readers. Just as if a man, 
leaning on the sanctity and authority of St. Peter, 
should contend that all which Peter ever said 
is true ; including even that saying in Matt. xvi. 
22. by which, through infirmity of the flesh, he 
persuaded Christ not to suffer ; or that saying, by 
which he commanded Christ to depart from him 
out of the ship (Luke v. 8.); and many others, for 
which he is reproved by Christ himself. 
SEC. vii. Men of this sort are like those, who, by way of 
sneering at the Gospel, go chattering that all is 
not true which is in the Gospel ; and lay hold of 

the Fa- that word (John viii. 48.) where the Jews say to 
then, by Cbrist Say we not ^ e }\ ft lSi i thou art a Sama- 

choosing IT 1-in i TT 

their bad ritan, and hast a devil :" or that, " He is guilty 

k Erasmus had bestowed these and some other commenda 
tions upon the Greek and Latin Fathers, to the disparagement of 
the Reformers, as making for his side in the argument. Luther 
asks, whether what they had said on Freewill was a specimen 
of this richness of invention, and laboriousness of investigation 
and expression ? Here they had not excelled, any more than 
Erasmus himself; to whom Luther was not backward to 
ascribe the praise of resembling and even equalling them. 


of death ;" or that " We have found this fellow SEC. vn. 

subverting our nation, and forbidding to give 

tribute unto Csesar." The assertors of Freewill sayings 
do just the same thing (with a different design, it j 1 " 
is true; and not willingly, but through blindness good. 
and ignorance), when they lay hold on what the 
Fathers, having fallen through infirmity of the 
flesh, say in support of Freewill; and oppose it to 
what the same Fathers have, in the strength of the 
Spirit, said elsewhere against it : after which, 
they go on presently to make the better give place 
to the worse. Thus it comes to pass, that they 
give authority to the worse sayings, because they 
make for the judgment of their flesh ; and with 
draw it from the better, because they make against 
that judgment. 

Why do we not rather choose the better? 
Many such sayings are in the works of the 
Fathers. To give you an instance : what saying can 
be more carnal ; nay, what saying can be more im 
pious, more sacrilegious, and more blasphemous ; 
than that wonted one of Jerome s ? Virginity fills 
heaven, and marriage earth/ As if earth, and 
not heaven, were the due of those patriarchs, 
apostles, and private Christians, who have married 
wives ; or heaven were the due of vestal virgins 
amongst the heathens, without Christ ! Yet the 
Sophists collect these, and like sayings, from the 
Fathers ; maintaining a contest of numbers, rather 
than of judgment, to get the sanction of authority 
x>r them. Just like that stupid fellow, Faber of 
Jonstance, 1 who presented his Margaritum (more 
)roperly called his stable of Augeas) lately to the , 

1 John Faber, a native of Suabia ; who, from one of his works 
gainst the Reformers, probably this very work, was called 
The Mallet of the Heretics. He was advanced to the see of 
ienna in 1531, and died there in 1542. His elevation was 
jpposed to have been the fruit of his zeal against Luther, 
le entitled it his Pearl : but Luther w r ould rather call it his 
Dunghill; with allusion to Hercules s famous labour of remov- 
ig the long accumulated filth of 3000 oxen. 




that God 
have dis 
guised the 
of his 


public., that the pious and learned might have 
their nauseating and vomiting draught. 

In answer to what you say, that it is incre 
dible that God should have disguised" 1 the error of 
his Church for so many ages, and should not have 
revealed to any of his saints what we maintain to 
be the very head of evangelical doctrine ; I reply : 

First, that we do not say that this error has been 
tolerated by God in his Church, or in any saint of 
His. For, the Church is governed by the Spirit of 
God ; the saints are led by the Spirit of God 
(Rom. viii. 14.); and Christ remains with his 
Church even unto the end of the world (Matt, 
xxviii. 20.); and the Church of God is the pillar 
and ground of the truth." (1 Tim. iii. 15.) These 
things, I say, we know. For thus speaks even 
our common creed ; i I believe in the holy Catholic 
Church : so that it is impossible for her to err in 
the least article. And if we should even grant 

m Dissimuldrit. ] Diligenter et astute celo, occulto, fingo non 
esse, quod revera est. 

11 STV^AO? KUI s&pafafui T/y<? dXrjOeteif ] Luther connects and 
refers these words, as the older editions of the Scriptures, and 
our translators, have done ; but Griesbach, and others after 
him, connect them with what follows. A very important 
sense is thus elicited ; " the pillar and ground of the truth 
(and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness) 
is God was manifested in the flesh, &c." But there seems an 
evident allusion to the ancient tabernacle, with its boards and 
sockets (the pillars, or uprights, and the silver foundations into 
which these were grooved ; see Exod. xxvi. 15 30.) j of which 
the Church of God is the blessed reality ; even as that was the 
image, or figure. 

Luther seems to have inferred the immaculateness of the 
militant and visible Church, from the above, and other like 
testimonies ; an entire exemption from error in a certain ever- 1 
subsistent community of the Lord s people tabernacling in 
flesh of sin . The Nineteenth Article of our Church declares, 
more correctly, The visible Church of Christ is a congrega 
tion of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God 
is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered, in all those 
things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church 
of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred, so also the 
Church of Rome hath erred ; not only in their living and man 
ner of ceremonies,, but also in matters of faith. - The same 


that some elect persons are held in error all their SEC.VIII. 

lifetime, still they must, before death, return into - 
the way ; because Christ says (John x. 28.), " No 

one shall pluck them out of my hand." But this whathe 
must be your labour and your achievement; even calls the 
to make it appear, with certainty, that those whom ^ " he 
you call the Church, are the Church ; or, rather, Church. 
that those, who all their lifetime were wanderers, 
have not at length been brought back to the fold, 
before they died. For it does not directly follow, 
if God hath suffered all those whom you adduce 
(scattered through as long a series of ages as you 
please, and men of the greatest erudition, if you 
please) to abide iu error, that therefore he has 
suffered his Church to abide in error. 

Look at Israel, the people of God : of all their 

kings, so many in number, and reigning during so 

long a period, not even one is mentioned, but what 

erred. And under Elias the Prophet, to such a 

degree had all men, and all that was public* of that 

! people, departed into idolatry ; that he thought 

himself left alone. Yet, in the mean time, whilst 

God was going to destroy kings, princes, priests, 

irophets, and whatsoever could be called the 

)eople or church of God, he reserved to himself 

seven thousand men. But who saw or knew these 

:o be the people of God ? So then, who will dare 

;o deny, that God hath even now preserved to 

aimself a Church amongst the common people, 

concealed under those principal men, (for you 

mention none but men of public office and of 

name ) and hath left all those to perish, as he did 

n the kingdom of Israel? since it is God s pecu- 

emark extends to each individual of the faithful. Who hath not 
:rrecl in his lifetime ? Of whom shall we say, that he died 
vithout any mixture of error in his creed ? Luther s repre- 
entation, therefore, requires restriction: of such error as he 
disputing about, it holds good. 

p Omne quod publicum erat.~] Men of public station, as 
pposed to private men. Luther does not forget Erasmus s 
rivatus and publicus. 



PART ii. liar right and act, to entangle the choice men of 

Israel, and to slay their fat ones (Psa. Ixxviii. 31), 

but to preserve the dregs and remnant of Israel 
alive ; as Esaias saith. q 

What happened under Christ himself: when all 
the Apostles were offended, and he was denied, 
and condemned by the whole people; scarcely one 
or two, Nicodemus and Joseph, and afterwards 
the thief upon the cross, being preserved to him ? 
But were these, at that time, called the people of 
God? There was, indeed, a people of God re 
maining, but it was not called so : what was called 
so, was not that people. Who knows, whether 
such may not have been the state of the Church 
of God always, during the whole course of the 
world, from its beginning ; that some have been 
called the people and saints of God, who were not 
really so ; whilst others, abiding as a remnant in 
the midst of them, have been, but have not been 
called, his people or saints ? as is shewn by the 
history of Cain and Abel, of Ishmael and Isaac, of 
Esau and Jacob. 

Look at the Arian period : r when scarcely five 

i Frequent promises are made in this Prophet that a remnant 
shall be left. " Except the Lord of Hosts had left us a ver 
small remnant, we should have been as Sodom," &c. (Is. i. 9.) 
" The remnant of Israel and such as are escaped of the house o 

Jacob The remnant shall return, even the remnant of JacobJ < 

unto the mighty God." " For though my people Israel be 
the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return. 
(x. 20, 21, 22. Comp. Rom. ix. 27.) So Is. xi 11 16. But 
do not find the expressions dregs and remnant united. 

r Arrianorum seculum.~\ Arianism arose early in the fourt 
century ; about three hundred years before the rise of th 
Popedom ; and, though condemned by Councils, was adopte 
by several of Constantine s successors, and became a source o 
grievous persecution to those who were sound in the faith 
For an account of its origin and real nature, see Milner s Eccle 
Hist. vol. ii. pp. 51 54. It was, in substance, a denial of th< 
co-eternity, co-equality, and co-essentiality of the Lord Jesu 
Christ with the Father. Already some secret and ambiguou 
attempts had been made to lessen the idea of the divinity of t 
Son of God. While his eternity was admitted by Eusebius th 


Catholic 8 bishops were preserved in all the world, SEC.VIII. 
and those driven from their sees; the Ariatis 

historian, he yet was not willing to own him co-equal with 
the Father. Arius went greater lengths : he said, That the Son 
proceeded out of a state of non-existence ; that he was not 
before he was made ; that he, who is without beginning, has 
set his Son as the beginning of things that are made ; and that 
God made one, whom he called Word, Son, and Wisdom, by 
whom he did create us. (Milu. in loc.) Like all the rest of 
heresy, it is truth corrupted ; and the only solid and satisfac 
tory answer will be given to it, not by boldly asserting and 
proving the real and proper divinity of the Lord Jesus, but by 
showing forth his whole person in its complexity ; made up, 
as it is, of two persons, a divine person and an human person, 
held together by an indissoluble union : the secret being, that 
God does all his works by this complex person s agency, who 
acts in his human person as plenarily inspired by the Holy 
Ghost. This person who thus doeth that will of God of God, 
even the Trinity which is referred to the Father personally j 
does hereby, amongst other subjects of manifestation, especially 
manifest that which we may well suppose to be the preemi 
nent object of display in the TRI-UNE Jehovah, the threefold 
personality of his one undivided essence. I am aware that the 
term union of persons, as substituted for union of natures, 
will be deemed objectionable, till it is well considered : but I 
have the authority of one of the best philosophers I know, for 
thus entitling the human part of the person of the Lord Jesus 
Christ. That which can contrive, which can design, must be 
a person. These capacities constitute personality, for they imply 
consciousness and thought. They require that which can per 
ceive an end or purpose ; as well as the power of providing 
means, and of directing them to their end. They require a cen 
tre in which perceptions unite, and from which volitions flow ; 
which is mind. The acts of a mind prove the existence of a 
mind ; and in whatever a mind resides is a person. The seat of 
intellect is a person. (Paley s Nat. Theol. pp. 439, 44O, 14th 
Ed n .^ Now, is it not plain from Scripture, and the admis 
sion of all Christians, with a very few heretical exceptions, 
that the Lord Jesus had this human mind, distinct from his 
godhead ? he had, therefore, according to this description, a 
person distinct from his divine person. And, what is to hinder 
that divine person, if the will oi God be so, from taking up an 
human person into union with himself, and acting in that per 
son, from thenceforth, not in his divine person ? Is not that 
union real, which subsists between this divine person and this 
human person ; when this human person, having been first 
generated, is afterwards inhabited, by his co-equal co- essential 
in the unity of God ? Does it not also subsist without for- 


PART ii. reigning every where, under the public name, and 

as filling the office/ of the Church. Nevertheless, 

under the dominion of those heretics, Christ pre 
served his Church; but in such a form, that it was 
by no means supposed to be, or regarded as, the 

Under the reign of the Pope, shew me a single 
bishop discharging his duty; shew me a single 
Council, in which matters of piety were treated of; 

feiture of distinctness ? Is it not also constant and unbroken, 
when that divine person evermore acts in and by that human 
person, putting his godhead as it were into abeyance ? Yet, 
are not his acts and his sufferings the acts and sufferings of the 
co-equal of the Father, and of the Holy Ghost ? There is no 
diminution, it is plain, of his essential godhead, in his volun 
tarily, and to a great end, submitting to act ly and in this 
creature person ; which constitutes him at the same time both 
creature and Creator : very man cloeth the works of God, and 
very God doeth the works of man. And, if this complexity of 
person is thus to be realized in time, what is to hinder that 
person in God, in whom it is to be realized, from transacting 
as though he actually were this complex person, from and in 
the beginning ? Is not Jehovah s will both immutable and 
irresistible ? is it not his propriety, to call things which are not 
as though they were, and to give realized being to substances 
which, as yet, exist in predestination ? And must he not have 
acted thus in this particular instance, when he chose a people 
of mankind to be in this complex person as a head, and gave 
grace to that people so chosen, before the world began ? 
Now, therefore, we can meet Arius upon his own ground, and 
confound him even there. Admitting all that he says, and 
says from the plain text of Scripture, about begotten, non- 
existence, was not before he was made, God hath made one 
whom he calls Word, Son, and Wisdom, by whom he did 
create us ; this in no wise impugns the co-eternity, co-equa 
lity, and co-essentiality of the Lord Jesus Christ with the 
Father : his human person, by and in which he has thus been 
doing all things, is the creature \vhich Arius would describe ; 
but he who assumed this person into union with himself is 
very God- which implies, that he is all that God is. 

s Catholid. ] Cath. opposed to heretical; a Greek term (aipcaif 
//j6T<Kos-) denoting selection , or partiality, as opposed to 
the profession of the whole faith. 

1 Publico nomine el offido^] They were publicly called, and 
recognised as, Christ s Church ; and performed its public 


and not robes, dignity, revenues, and other pro- SEC.VIII. 
fane trifles, which none but a madman can attri 
bute to the Holy Spirit. Yet they are called the 
Church ; when all who live as they did whatever 
may be said of others are in a lost state, and any 
thing- rather than the Church. Howbeit, under 
these Christ preserved his Church ; yet so, as not 
to have it called the Church. How many saints, 
think you, have these sole and special inquisi 
tors" of heretical pravity burnt and slain; in the 
course of some ages, for which they have now 
reigned? Such as John Huss v and the like; in 
whose time, no doubt many holy men lived, of the 
same spirit. 

Why do you not rather express your admira 
tion at this, Erasmus, that, from the beginning of 
the w r orld, there have always existed amongst the 
heathens men of more excellent genius, greater 
erudition, and more ardent study, than amongst 
Christians, or the people of God? Just as Christ 
himself confesses, that the children of this world 
are wiser than the children of light. (Lukexvi. 8.) 
What Christian is worthy to be compared with 

u Soli isti inquisitor es.~] Referring, not to the Inquisition only 
(which was established about the year 1226 ; the Vaudois and 
Albigenses being the first objects of it) ; but to the whole system 
of espionage, confiscation, excommunication, and violence, with 
which the lamb-like beast professed to be achieving the 
extirpation of heresy ; whilst he was himself the great here- 

v John Huss, and his fellow-martyr Jerom of Prague, were 
amongst the earlier and most intrepid vociferators against the 
Papal abuses. They were favoured with much insight into the 
truth of God, walking in the light, and treading in the steps, 
of their immediate predecessor, Wickliff; though it has been 
said, that they struck at the branches rather than the root of 
Antichrist, not sufficiently exposing the predominant corrup 
tions in doctrine. (See Milner, vol. iv. p. 275.) They suffered 
death, under very aggravated circumstances of perfidy, fierceness, 
and maliciousness, by a decree of the Council of Constance, 
1415, 1416 j about a hundred years before Luther s time. Huss 
is supposed to have been Luther s swan; singing of him in his 
death, as one that should come after. 






Church is 
not yet 
ed ; the 
saints are 

but Cicero only not to mention the Greeks in 
genius., erudition, and diligence? What shall we 
then say to have been the hindrance, that none of 
them hath been able to attain to grace ? Cer 
tainly they have exercised the free will with all 
their might : and who will venture to say, that 
not any one of them hath been most eagerly bent 
upon arriving at the truth ? Yet it must be 
asserted,, that none of them hath reached it. Will 
you say here also, that it is incredible God should 
have left so many and so great men to them 
selves, throughout the whole course of the world, 
and should have suffered them to strive in vain ? 
Assuredly, if Freewill w^ere any thing, or could 
do any thing, it must have been something, and 
have done something, in those men ; in some one 
of them at least. But it has effected nothing; 
nay, its effect has always been the opposite way. 
So that Freewill may be fully proved to be nothing, 
by this single argument ; that, from the beginning 
of the world to the end, no sign can be shewn 
of it. 

But to return to the point. What wonder, if 
God suffer all the great ones of the Church to walk 
in their own ways, when he has so left all nations 
to walk in their own ways; as Paul says in the 
Acts? (xiv. 16.) The Church of God is not so 
vulgar x a thing, my Erasmus, as this name, The 
Church of God/ by which it is called ; nor do the 
saints of God meet us up and down every where, 
so commonly as this name of theirs, c The Saints 
of God/ does. They are a pearl and noble gems; 
which the Spirit does not cast before swine, but, 
as the Scripture speaks, keeps hidden ; that the 

x fulgaris ] Properly, what is possessed by the common 
people; ordinary/ common, promiscuous ; opposed to 
rare, choice/ what is the possession of a few. The 
names Church of God/ and Saints/ are in every body s 
mouth ; but the things signified by these names are select and 


wicked may not see the glory of God. y Else, if SECT - x - 
these were openly recognised by all people, how " 
could it happen that they should be so afflicted 
and persecuted in the world? as Paul says, "If 
they had known, they would not have crucified the 
Lord of glory." 

I do not say these things, as denying that those 
whom you mention were saints, or were the Church 

of God; but because it cannot be proved (should judgment 
any one be disposed to deny it) that these iden- ^ment^ 
tical persons were saints, but must be left alto- O f charity. 
gether uncertain : and, consequently, an argument 
drawn from their saintship is not of sufficient 
credit a to confirm any dogma. I call them saints, 
and account them such ; I call, and think them to 
have been, the Church of God ; but by the law of 
love, not by the law of faith : that is, charity, 

y Gloriam Dei.~\ These substances are not only select, but 
hidden ; the Church is an invisible community, and the 
saints have no outward badge to distinguish them. If they 
could be discerned by the eye, that Scripture would be falsi 
fied, which saith, The wicked shall not see the glory of God. 
I do not find this text to which he appears to refer. The Lord s 
people are expressly called his hidden ones. Ps. Ixxxiii. 3. 
and his act of hiding them is mentioned Ps. xxvii. 5. xxxi. 20. 
Also the sentiment of the wicked not seeing God, is com 
mon in Scripture, though not with this allusion ; which is evi 
dently a strained one, though beautiful and just. But I do not 
find any Scripture which puts the two sentiments together ; 
hidden, that the wicked may not see. The Church, and each 
individual saint, is a part of that substance, the mystical 
Christ, which God has ordained and created to his glory. 

z Dominion gloricE crucijijcissent.~] Here again, we have a 
strained application of Scripture (1 Cor. ii. 8.) ; although the 
sentiment be correct. What the Apostle there says, he says of 
Christ personally and exclusively ; but it is also true, that, in 
persecuting his people, they act his crucifixion over again. 
They are animated with the same spirit as the crucifiers ; and 
the Lord himself has said, with application to this very case, 
" Why persecutes! thou Me?" 

a Locum satis fidelem~\ Loc. more strictly, a fund of ar 
guments ; locus et loci, sunt sedes argumentorum, ex 
(niibus ea tanquam e promptuario petuntur. Fid. fide dignus, 
trustworthy; like Trunos, it expresses either one who has 
faith, or one towards whom faith is exercised. 



PART ii. which thinketh all good of every man, and is in 
no wise suspicious, and believes and presumes all 
good of her neighbours, calls any baptized person 
you please, 1 a saint/ Nor is there any mischief, 
if she be mistaken : because it is the lot of charity 
to be deceived; exposed, as she is, to all the 
uses and abuses of all men ; a general helper to 
the good and to the evil, to the faithful and to 
-the unfaithful, to the true and to the false. But 
< faith calls no man a saint, except he be declared 
such by a divine judgment. Because it is the 
property of faith, not to be deceived. So that, 
whereas, we ought all to be accounted saints mu 
tually, by the law of charity; still, no one ought 
to be decreed a saint by the law of faith; as 
though it were an article of faith, that this or that 
man is a saint. It is in this way, that the Pope, 
that great adversary of God, who sets himself in 
the place of G od, canonizes his saints : of whom 
he knows not that they are saints. c 

This only I affirm, with respect to those saints 
Q f y 0urs or ra ther of ours ; that, since they are at 

11 Till 

variance amongst themselves, those rather should 
have been followed who spoke the best things; 
that is, against Freewill in support of grace ; and 
those should have been left, who, through infir 
mity of the iiesh, have witnessed to the flesh, 
rather than to the Spirit. Again ; those writers, 
who are inconsistent with themselves, should have 
been adopted and embraced where they speak 
after the Spirit, and left where they savour the 
flesh. This was the part of a Christian reader; a 
clean animal, which parteth the hoof and chew- 
eth the cud. d But our course has been., to post- 

b Quamvis baptisatum. ] Luther states this too broadly : the 
judgment of charity is moderate and indulgent ; but surely there 
are deflections, both in faith and practice, which place many 
a baptized unbeliever beyond the bounds of the widest en 
closures of charity. 

c See 2 Thessal. ii. 4. d See Levit, xi. 3. Deut. xiv. 6. 

ther would 



pone the exercise of judgment,, and to devour all SECT.XI. 

sorts of meat indiscriminately : or, what is still 

more unrighteous, by a perverse exercise of judg 
ment, we reject the better and approve the worse, 
in the self-same authors ; and, after having done 
so, we affix the title and authority of their saint- 
ship to those very parts which are the worse : a 
title which they have deserved for their better 
parts, and for the Spirit only; not for their Free 
will, or flesh. 

What shall we do then ? The Church is a hidden Erasmus s 
community : the saints are not yet manifested, j^^dvice 
What and whom shall we believe? or, as you stated; in 
most shrewdly argue, who shall assure us? How somed f- 
shall we try their spirit? If you look to erudition, mTtteVbut 
there are Rabbies on both sides. If you look to amended. 
the life, on both sides are sinners. If you look 
to Scripture, both parties embrace it with affec 
tion. Nor is the dispute so much about Scrip 
ture (which is not even yet quite clear) as about 
the meaning of Scripture/ Moreover, there are 
on both sides men, who, if they do not promote 
their cause at all by their numbers, their erudition, 
or their dignity ; much less do so, by their fewness, 
their ignorance, and their meanness. The matter 
is therefore left in doubt, and the dispute remains 
still under the hands of the judge : so that it 
seems as if we should act most prudently in with 
drawing, as a body, into the sentiment of the 
Sceptics ; unless we should rather choose to fol 
low your best of all examples, who profess to be 
just in such a state of doubt, as enables you to tes 
tify, that you are still a seeker and a learner of 

e Unde e.rplorahimus SpiritumJ] Referring to 1 John iv. 1. 
Erasmus talks about Paul s recommending to try the spirits, 
hut evidently his allusion is to these words of St. John. 

f Neijue adeo de Scripturd.] It is not so much the 
authority of Scripture, as its right interpretation, which is in 
dispute. Qua: necdum. Want of clearness is hinted rather than 
affirmed ; necdum implies, notwithstanding all that has been 
written and decreed about it. 


PART ii. the truth ; inclining to that side which asserts the 
-- freedom of the will, only just until truth shall have 
made herself manifest/ 

To this I reply, What you say here is the 
truth, but not the whole truth/ g For we shall not 
try the spirits by arguments drawn from the eru 
dition, life, genius, multitude, dignity, ignorance, 
rudeness, paucity, or meanness of the dispu 
tants. Nor do I approve those, who place their 
refuge in a boast that they have the Spirit. For I 
have had a very severe contest this year, 1 and am 
still maintaining it, with those fanatics who sub 
ject the Scriptures to the interpretation of their 
own spirit. Nay, it is on this ground, that I have 
hitherto inveighed against the Pope himself; in 
whose kingdom nothing is more commonly urged, 
or more commonly received, than this saying, 
c That the Scriptures are obscure and ambigu 
ous ; that we must seek the interpreting spirit 
from the Apostolic See of Rome/ There cannot 
be a more pernicious assertion than this ; from 
which ungodly men have taken occasion to exalt 
themselves above the Scriptures, and to fabricate 
just what they pleased : till at length, having quite 
trodden the Scriptures under foot, we were be 
lieving and teaching nothing but the dreams of 
madmen. In a word, this saying is no human in 
vention, but a mouthful of poison sent into the 
world by the incredible malice of the very prince 
of all the devils. 

SEC. xii. This is our assertion ; that the.j3pjrita aje_ia be 
trjed and proved by tw,Q sorts of judgment. One of 

these is internal ; by_ which,,the man who has been 
naisforthe enlightened by the Holy Spirit, or special gift of 

s Neque nihil, neque omnia dicis."] Erasmus says rightly, the 
spirits must be tried ; wrongly, that there is no test of them. 
Also, the tests he proposes are bad. 

h It was in J525 (the date of his performance), that Luther 
published his Address to the Celestial Prophets and Ca- 


his own .sake and for his own individual SEC. xn. 

salvation, doth, \\ith the greatest certainly, judg;. 

and discern the dogmas and thoughts of all men. s P ints of 

A /- * n men j one 

i this judgment the Apostle speaks, 1 Cor. 11. p,ivate,the 
15. " He that is spiritual judgeth all things, and other pub- 
is judged of no man." This judgment appertains 
to faith ; and is necessary even to every private 
Christian, t have called it above the internal 
clearness of Holy Scripture/ Perhaps, this is 
what was meant by those who have replied to you, 
that every thing must be determined by the judg 
ment of the Spirit/ But this judgment is of no 
profit to any other person besides ourselves, and 
is not the subject of inquiry in this cause : nor 
does any one, I dare say, doubt that this judg 
ment is just what I state it to be. 

There is, therefore, another judgment, which is 
external ; and by which we, not only for our 
selves, but for others, and for the salvation of 
others, do with the greatest certainty judge the 
spirits and dogmas of all men. XJjjsJs the judg 
ment of the public ministry, an outward office, 
appealing to the word: what belongs chielly to 
the leaders of the people, and preachers of the 
word. k We use it to confirm the weak, and to 

J See Part i. Sect. iv. 

k Judic mm publici ministerii in verbal] Minis. The office, or 
body, of ministers. In verbo. The word is to them, what the 
law of the land is to a civil judge. Offic. exter. opposed to an in 
ternal function, or operation. Luther refers to the judgment 
of a synod, or council ; a tribunal, to which he always de 
clared himself willing to submit his own obnoxious assertions. 
He states the matter too broadly, and was guided by an 
mage which lie had in his mind of what might be, rather than 
iy any exhibition of this external judgment which he had ever 
ieen, or could appeal to as an example. A synod of real 
dints might be confidently looked to, as decreeing under the 
Humiliation of a light from above. But when has such a synod 
net since the council of Jerusalem ? (Acts xv. 1 31.) If, as 
t is probable, there be real saints in the council, who is to 
nsure their being the majority? Whilst great respect, there- 
ore, is due to a judgment of this kind, it cannot be that infal- 
ible one, which Luther s commendations might seem to imply. 


PART ir. confute the gainsayers. I have called this above 
-- the external clearness of Holy Scripture/ Our 
assertion is, ( Let all the spirits be tried in the 
face of the Church at the bar of Scripture/ For 
it ought to be a first principle, most firmly main 
tained amongst Christians, that the Holy Scrip 
tures are a spiritual light, far brighter than the 
sun ; especially in those things which pertain to 
salvation, or are necessary. 

SEC.XIII. But, since we have now for a long time been 
persuaded to a contrary opinion by that pestilent 
the Sophists, That the Scriptures are 

ture prov- obscure and ambiguous; I am compelled, in the 
ed.bytesti- fi rs t place, to prove that very first principle of 
fronTthe ours, by which all the rest are to be proved : 
Old Testa- what would to philosophers appear absurd and 
ment - impossible. 

First, then, Moses says (Deut. xvii. 8), that, if 
any difficult cause should arise, they must go up 
to the place which God hath chosen for his name, 

It is not strictly parallel to the external clearness of Scrip 
ture ; which he refers to, as asserted, Part i. Sect. iv. The 
testimony may be imperfectly brought out ; or the judges may 
not have eyes to see it. Would Luther undertake to say, that 
he should himself bring all the testimony that is in the Scrip 
tures, to bear upon any given question ; or would he, had he 
been able to cite it, have convinced the Council of Constance, 
or the Council of Trent ? After all, the private and internal 
judgment which he speaks of ; the Spirit shining upon and con 
firming his testimony by the word, is that which the spiritual 
man must, and will, at last resort to, and can alone depend 
upon. He is thankful for, and in some sense obedient to, the 
judgment of pure synods (pure as such compounds can be ex 
pected to be) ; but to a higher Master he standeth or falleth. 
" This I say then, walk in" (or after} - the spirit." (Gal. v. 16.) 
Enough for Luther s purpose may., however, be admitted. Let 
all dogmas be brought to the standard of Scripture, publicly ; 
let the leaders and counsellors of the people declare upon them, 
stating the grounds of their decision. Such judgment will 
have its weight, though not paramount ; and it will be mani 
fested how slender, or how false, are the foundations of error. 
This object is obtained, in a great degree, now, by the free 
canvass which religious, as well as other opinions., are made to 
submit tOj from the press. 


and there consult the Priests, who must judge it SEC.XIII. 

according* to the la\v of the Lord. " According 

to the law of the Lord/ saith he. But how shall 
they judge, except the law of the Lord, wherewith 
the people must be satisfied, were externally most 
plain ? Else, it were enough to say, e They shall 
judge according to their own spirit/ Nay, the 
truth is, that in every civil government, all the 
causes of all the subjects are settled by the laws. 
But how could they be settled, except the laws 
were most certain, and just like so many shining 
lights amongst the people. For, if the laws were 
ambiguous and uncertain, not only would it be 
impossible that any causes should be decided, but 
there could be no certain standard of manners : 
since laws are made for this very purpose, that 
the manners of the people may be regulated by a 
certain model ; and the principles by which causes 
are to be determined, may be defined." 1 That 
which is to be the standard and measure of other 
things, ought itself to be by much the surest and 
clearest of all things : and such a sort of thing is 
the law. Now, if this light and certainty in their 
laws be both necessary, and also conceded freely 
to the whole world, by a divine gift, in profane 
governments (which are conversant about tem 
poral things) ; how is it possible, that God should 
not have granted laws and rules of much greater 
light and certainty to his Christian people (his 
chosen, forsooth) ; whereby to direct their own 
iearts and lives individually, and to settle all their 
Causes? since He would have temporal things to 
e despised by his children ? For, " if God so 

1 Extern^.] As opposed to a light of the Spirit, within the 

m Causarum qucestiones dejiniantur. ] The book of the laws lays 
own and recognises certain broad principles, to which the 
lets of each case are applied. These principles must be de- 
jrminately fixed, admitted, and perspicuously affirmed. Stains 
tustf, is the question of fact, at issue ; qucestio causa;, the law 
rinciple to which it is referable. 


PART ii. clothe the grass, which to day is, and to-morrow is 

cast into the oven, how much more shall he clothe 

us?" But let us go on to overwhelm this pesti 
lent saying of the Sophists with Scripture. 

The nineteenth Psalm (ver. 8) says, et The 
commandment of the Lord is lightsome, or pure ; 
enlightening the eyes." I suppose that Avhich 
enlightens the eyes, is not obscure, or ambi 

So the 119th Psalm (ver. 130) says, "The door 
of thy words enlighteneth ; it giveth understand 
ing to thy little ones." Here he attributes to the 
words of God that they are ( a door, ( a something 
set open; what is exposed to the view of all, and 
enlightens even the little ones. 

Isaiah viii. (ver. 20) sends all questions to the 
law and to the testimony ; threatening, that the 
light of the morning shall be denied us, unless 
we do so. n 

In Zech. ii. he commands them to seek the 
law from the mouth of the Priest, as being the 
messenger of the Lord of Hosts. Pretty mes 
senger or ambassador of the Lord, forsooth, if 
he speak those things which are both ambiguous 
in themselves, and obscure to the people ; so 
that he is as ignorant of what he speaks, as they 
are of what they hear. 

And what is more frequently said to the praise 
of Scripture, throughout the whole of the Old Tes 
tament, and especially throughout that single hun 
dred and nineteenth Psalm, than that it is in itself 

11 In our version, it is not a threat, but an explanation of a 
fact : " If they speak not according to this word, it is because 
there is no light in them," A testimony equally conclusive as 
to the clearness of the word ; for how are we to compare decla 
rations, and ascertain their conformity with the written word, 
if that word be not plain ? 

A false reference : the w r ords are found in Malachi ii. 7- 
" For the Priest s lips should keep knowledge, and they should 
seek the law at his mouth j for he is the messenger of the Lord 
of Hosts." 


a most certain and a most evident light ? For thus SEC.XIV. 

he celebrates its clearness, " Thy word is a lamp 

unto my feet, and a light unto my paths/ (v. 105.) 
He says not, Thy Spirit only is a lamp unto my 
feet: albeit, he assigns its office to this also; 
saying, " Thy good Spirit shall conduct me 
forth p in a right land." Thus, it is called both a 
way and e a path; q doubtless, from its exceed 
ing great certainty. 

Let us come to the New Testament. Paul says Clearness 
(Rom. i. 2.), that the Gospel was promised by the J r g Cllp " 
Prophets in the Holy Scriptures : arid in chap. iii. proved, by 
that the righteousness of faith was witnessed by 
the law and the Prophets. (Ver. 21.) But what 
sort of a witnessing was this, if obscure ? Nay, he Testa- 
not only makes the Gospel the word of light/ " 
f the gospel of clearness/ in all his Epistles ; but 
does this professedly, and with great abundance 
of words, in 2 Cor. iii. and iv. where he reasons 
boastfully upon the clearness, as well of Moses as 
of Christ/ 

Peter also says (2 Peter i. 19), " We have a 
very sure word of prophecy ; whereunto ye do 
well that yc take heed, as unto a light that shineth 
in a dark place." Here Peter makes the word of 
God a clear lamp, and all other things darkness : 
and do we make obscurity and darkness of it ? 

Christ so often calls himself " the lio-ht of the 


world," and John the Baptist " a burning and a 
shining light ;" not because of the sanctity of their 
lives, doubtless; but because of the word: just 

p Deducet.~\ Like the of the Greeks, expresses the 
escorting of a person to his home. 

i Via et semita.] Via, the broad carriage-road ; semita, 
the narrow foot-path. 

r Glorio& dispntat. ] The Apostle institutes a comparison (in 
chap iii.) between the glory of the Gospel ministry and that of 
Moses ; shewing the superiority of the former. The scope and 
effect of the comparison is to magnify his own office : but the 
clearness of both is assumed, as the very basis of the argument ; 
i clearness, indicated in Moses by the glory of his countenance. 


PART ii. as Paul calls the Philippians " bright lights of the 

world;" "because ye hold fast 5 the word of life," 

says he. For, without the wo rd,life is uncertain 
and obscure. 

And what are the Apostles about, when they 
prove their own preachings by the Scriptures ? Is 
it, that they may darken their own darkness to us, 
by greater darkness? or, is it to prove the more 
known thing by one more unknown ? What is 
Christ about, in John v. (ver. 39.) when he teaches 
the Jews to search the Scriptures ; as being his 
witnesses, forsooth ? Is it that he may render 
them doubtful about the faith of him?* What are 
those persons about, in Acts xviii. (ver. 2.) who, 
on hearing Paul, read the Scriptures day and 
night, to see whether those things were so ? Do 
not all these things prove, that the Apostles, as 
well as Christ himself, appeal to the Scriptures, as 
the clearest witnesses to the truth of their dis 
courses ? With what face, then, do we represent 
them as obscure ? 

I beg to know, whether these words of Scrip 
ture are obscure or ambiguous, " God created the 
heavens and the earth ;" " and the word was made 
flesh ;" and all those affirmations which the whole 
w r orld has received as articles of faith : and 
whence received them, but from the Scriptures? 
And what are those about, who preach still to this 
day? Do they interpret and declare" the Scrip- 

s Our translation says " holding forth;" Luther says " tene- 
tis :" the original word is eVe^i/res- exhibeo, prse me fero. 
But it must be possessed, before it can be held forth ; and, if 
on this account they be called " lights," what must the word 
itself be ? 

1 Dejide sui.~] If these witnesses were doubtful, not clear ; 
he would be justifying them in their unbelief, instead of 
establishing his claim to be received. 

u Declarant. ] Make clear, or cause to be seen ; it refers 
to the matter of Scripture, as inlerpretantur does to the meaning 
of the terms : an avowing, propounding, or distinctly set 
ting forth to the world, of the testimony, or truth of God, 
which is contained ami shut up in the Scriptures. 


tures? If the Scripture, which they declare, be ob- SEC.XIV. 
scure; who is to assure us, that even this decla 
ration of it is certain? Another new declaration? 
What shall declare that also ? At this rate, 
we shall have an endless progression. In fine, if 
Scripture be obscure or doubtful, what need was 
there for it to be declared to us by God from 
heaven? A w vf r r>f "vffirjfilltlyliflhfifini ft HI I 
ambiguous, ^illiout having our obscurity, ambi- 
gujty^_and darkness increased to us from heaven ? 
What will then become of that saying of the Apos 
tle, " All Scripture, having been given by inspi 
ration of God, is profitable for teaching, for 
reproving, and for convincing?" (2 Tim. iii. 16.) 
Nay, it is absolutely useless, Paul ! and what 
thou attributest to Scripture must be sought from 
the Fathers, who have been received for a long 
series of ages, and from the Roman see ! Thy 
sentence, therefore, must be revoked, which thou 
writest to Titus, " That a bishop must be mighty 
in sound doctrine, that he may be able both to 
exhort and to refute the gainsayers, and to stop the 
mouth of vain- talkers and soul-deceivers." How 
shall he be mighty, when thou leavest him the 
Scriptures obscure ; that is, arms of flax ; and, for 
a sword, light stubble ? Then must Christ also 
recant his own word, who falsely promises us, " I 
will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your 
adversaries shall riot be able to resist." How 
shall they not resist, when we fight against them 
with obscure and uncertain weapons? Why dost 
thou also prescribe a form of Christianity to us, 
if the Scriptures are obscure to thee? 

But I think I have long been burdensome, even 
to men of no sensibility, in making so long delay, 
and so wasting my forces on a proposition which 
is most evident. But it was necessary to over- 

Tantas moras traho et copias perdu."] His copise are his 
kripture testimonies ami reasonings. 



PART II. whelm that impudent and blasphemous saying, 
- ( The Scriptures are obscure ; that you also 
might see, my Erasmus, what it is you say, when 
you deny the Scripture to be quite clear. For 
you must, at the same time, assent to me, that all 
your saints, whom you adduce, are much less clear. 
For who shall assure us of their light, if you make 
out the Scriptures to be obscure ? So that those, 
who deny the Scriptures to be most clear and 
most evident/ leave us nothing but darkness. 
SEC. xv. jj u t here you will say, e All this is nothing to 
~~" me; I do not say that the Scriptures are obscure 
u pon all subjects (for who would be mad enough 

if the dog- to say so?); but only on this, and the like/ My 
freewill answer is; neither do I assert these things in 
be obscure, opposition to you only, but in opposition to all 
" 1 W ^ th* 1 ^ as y u do. And again: in opposition 
to you distinctly; I affirm, with respect to the 
whole Scripture, that I will not allow any part of 
it to be called obscure. What I have cited from 
Peter stands good here ; that " the word of God 
is a lamp shining to us in a dark place." y Now, 
if there be a part of this lamp which shineth not; 
it will become part of the dark place, rather than 
of the lamp itself. Christ has not so enlightened 
us, as wilfully to leave some part of his word 
dark; when he, at the same time, commands us to 
give heed to it: for in vain he commands us to 
give heed, if it doth not shine. 

So that, if the dogma of Freewill be obscure 
or ambiguous; it belongeth not to Christians and 
to the Scriptures, and should be altogether aban- 

x Lucidissimas et evidentissimas.~] Luc. their testimony un 
equivocal; evid. the terms in which that testimony is con 
veyed, unambiguous. So that they may be compared to some 
of those beautiful orbs above us ; which are not only luminous, 
but exposed to view. 

y See above, Sect. xiv. Stat ibi. qui vigent, in statu suo 
manent, incolumes sunt/ dignitatem suam retinent ; non- 
nunquam stare dicuntur : opposed to concido 3 loses none 
of its authority here. 


doned, and ranked amongst those fables, which SEC.XVI. 

Paul condemns Christians for wrangling 1 about/ 

For, if it belong to Christians and to the Scrip 
tures, it ought to be clear, open, and evident, and 
just like all the oilier articles of the faith : which 
are most evident. For, all the articles, which 
Christians receive, ought not only to be most cer 
tain to themselves, but also fortified against the 
assaults of other men, by such manifest and clear 
Scriptures, that they shut every man s mouth 
from having power to say any thing against them : 
as Christ says in his promise, " I will give you a 
mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries 
shall not be able to resist." If, therefore, our 
mouth be so weak in the behalf of this dogma, 
that our adversaries can resist it ; what he says is 
false, that no adversary can resist our mouth. So 
that, we shall either meet with no adversaries, 
whilst maintaining the dogma of Freewill (which 
will be the case if it does not belong to us) ; or, if 
it do belong to us, we shall have adversaries, it is 
true ; but they shall be such as cannot resist us. 

But this inability of the adversaries to resist Meaning 
(since the mention of it has occurred here) con- a "^ ex ? m ~ 
sisteth not in their being compelled to abandon Sf the pro- 
their own humour/ or being persuaded either to niise > Ail 

z Christianis r ucaniibus. ] Luther does not appear to refer to 
any single text explicitly, but to the many warnings of this 
kind, which are dispersed throughout the Epistles to Timothy 
and Titus. The nearest references seem to be, 1 Tim. i. 4, 6 . 
("Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which 
minister questions rather than godly edifying, which is in 
faith.". ..." From which some having swerved, have turned 
aside unto vain jangling.") 2 Tim. ii. 23. (" But foolish and 
unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.") 
And Titus iii. 9. (" But avoid foolish questions, and genealo 
gies, and contentions, and strivings about the law ; for they 
are unprofitable and vain.") 

a ,SY/wi suo cedere.~\ Sensus is properly, the frame of 

thought, or of feeling, whatever that be ; the state of mind. 

Communis sensus, which follows just below, is properly, 

the common judgment, or feeling, of mankind $ and is 



PART ir. confess or to be silent. For who shall compel 

the unwilling to believe, to confess their error, 

youradyer- or | o j^ s ]} eil t ? What is more loquacious than 

sanes shall .. . OTJJ_I- JT 

not be able vanity, says Augustine I rSut their mouth is so 
to resist. f ar stopped, that they have nothing to say in 
reply ; and, though they say much in reply, yet, 
in the judgment of common sense, they say 
nothing. This is best shewn by examples. When 
Christ had put the Sadducees to silence (Matt. 
xxii. 23 32.), by citing Scripture, and proving 
the resurrection of the dead from the words of 
Moses (Exod. iii. 6.), " I am the God of Abra 
ham, &c." " He is not the God of the dead, but 

of the living " upon this, they could not resist, or 
say any thing in reply. But did they, therefore, 
recede from their opinion ? And, how often did 
he confute the Pharisees, by the most evident 
Scriptures and arguments ; so that the people 
clearly saw them convicted, and they themselves 
perceived it? Still, however, they continued his 
adversaries. Stephen, in Acts vii. b so spake, 
according to Luke, that (C they were not able to 
resist the wisdom and the Spirit which spake in 
him." But what was their conduct? Did they 
yield ? So far from it, being ashamed to be over 
come, and having no power to resist, they go mad; 
and, stopping their eyes and ears, suborn false 
witnesses against him. (Acts vi. 1 14.) See how 
he stands before the council, and confutes his 

thence transferred to express a certain imaginary standard of 
judgment, or court of appeal, the voice of unadulterated and 
unsophisticated nature, which \ve call common sense. 

b This should be Acts vi. (v. 1O.) There is a good deal of 
confusion in Luther s reference to this history, lie represents 
the violence with which they rushed upon him at the close of 
his defence (especially when he had testified that he saw the 
heavens opened, and the Son of man standing- on the right 
hand of God ), as having been expressed before his apprehension 
and arraignment, and refers the whole transaction to Acts vii. ; 
of which the first incidents are recorded in the preceding 


adversaries! After having enumerated the bene- SEC.XVI. 

fits which God had bestowed upon tliat people, 

from their origin, and having proved that God had 
never ordered a Temple to be built to him (for on 
this charge he was tried, and this was the point of 
fact at issue); he at length concedes, that a Temple 

c Ecus agebaturJ] Re. ag. lie was arraigned ; ed qucestione, on 
this indictment 3 this was the law-crime charged : status 
causa 1 , the question of fact to be tried. Luther intimates, that 
his address to the council is resolvable into this main subject ; 
a defence against the charge of having blasphemed the Temple. 
Such being the charge preferred against him, he repelled it, by 
maintaining that it was nothing criminal to speak against the 
Temple ; for that was not God s ordinance. Probably, he had 
been led by the Holy Ghost, to aim at beating down the idola 
trous attachment which the Jews shewed to their Temple, in his 
reasonings with those who arose and disputed with him. But 
it is expressly said, " they suborned men which said, We have 
heard him Speak blasphemous words against Moses, and 
against God." (Acts vi. 11.) And afterwards ; "And set up 
false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak 
blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law." 
(Acts vi. 13.) It should seem, therefore, that more was charged 
against him, with respect to this blasphemy, than he had 
really spoken. Perhaps his defence ; or, as I would rather call 
it, his address ; may be correctly said to have had a broader 
basis than that of merely repelling a charge of having blas 
phemed the Temple ; viz. that of proving, that the great body 
of their nation had always been " registers " of the Holy Ghost ; 
and by inference, therefore, that they were such now, in what 
they had done to Jesus. From the Patriarchs downwards, 
their plans and efforts had always been in direct opposition to 
the counsel and purpose of God, as declared to them by those 
in whom the Holy Ghost spake. (See Heb. i. 1, C 2. Gr.) 
Whatever was the accusation, and however he might design to 
repel it, the clue to his discourse seems to be found in 
vv. 51 53. " Ye stiffnecked and uncircurncised in heart and 
ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost" (not as striving hi 
their own souls, but as testifying in those whom God sent to be 
his instruments for drawing out the enmity of their carnal 
mind) "as your fathers did, so do ye." On this broader basis, 
however, he contrives to build an answer to his own peculiar 
charge respecting the Temple ; by shewing, that this very 
Temple furnished one proof of their resistance to the Holy 
Ghost their idolized Temple had not originated from God, but 
was man s device. It was, in fact, David s own suggestion, 
which he was forbidden to execute ; and was rather acquiesced 
in, than appointed of God (just as in the former case of appointing 


PART ii. had indeed been bnilt to him, under Solomon. 

But then he abates the force of his concession/ 1 

by subjoining after this manner; " Howbeit the 
Most High dwelleth not in temples made with 
hands :" and, in proof of this, he alleges the last 
chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, " What house is 
this that ye build unto me?" (Isa. Ixvi. 1.) Tell 
me, what could they say now, against so plain a 
Scripture ? But they, nothing moved by it, re 
mained fixed in their own sentiment. Which 
leads him to inveigh against them also: 6 "Ye 
uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always 
resist the Holy Ghost." They resist/ he says ; 
whereas, in point of fact, they were not able to 

Let us come to the men of our day/ When 
John Huss disputes after this manner against the 
Pope, from Matt. xvi. 18, &c. "The gates of hell 
prevail not against my Church." (Is there any 

a king, 1 Sam. viii xii.) ; when the honour of building it was 
appropriated to Solomon. (2 Sam. vii. 1 Chron. xvii.) God s 
Temple (not only the spiritual one, but the material fabric also) 
was deferred till the latter times (Ezek. xl. xlviii) ; and Solo 
mon s was but an abortive birth, arising from the precocity of 
man : the Lord giving way, as it were, to man s device, 
that he might shew him its instability and vanity. Go( 
instituted a tabernacle ("Our fathers had the tabernacle of wit 
ness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unU 
Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he 
had seen." Acts vii. 44. &c. &c.J a fabric more suited to the 
then stote of his Church and nation but the well-meaning 
vanity of his aspiring worshippers, would have a stately temple 
as if walls and roofs could contain him ! " Howbeit the Most 
High &c." 

d Subsumit.~] I do not find any authority for this word ; but 
taking the general principle of the preposition sub, when uset 
in composition (secretly, diminutively) ; the amplification in the 
text seems most nearly to express the author s meaning. 

Tandem concedit At ibi subsumit : subs, implies a 

secret, or partial, retraction of his concession. 

Unde et in eos.~\ In contradistinction to their fathers. 

f The Council of Constance, A. D. 1415. was Luther s day, 
and even our day, as compared with that of Christ and his first 


obscurity or ambiguity in these words ?) But sc. xvn. 

against the Pope, and his abettors, the gates of 

hell do prevail ; since they are notorious for their 
manifest impiety and wickednesses all the world 
over. (Is this also obscure ?) Therefore the 
Pope and his partisans are not that Church of 
which Christ speaks. What could they hereupon 
say against him; or how could they resist the 
mouth, which Christ had given him ? Yet they 
did resist, and persevered in their resistance, till 
they burnt him : so far were they from altering 
their mind. Nor does Christ suppress this, when 
he says, the adversaries shall not be able to 
resist/ They are adversaries, says he ; therefore 
they will resist. If they did not resist, they 
would not be adversaries, but friends ; and yet 
they shall not be able to resist. What is this, 
but to say, that, resisting, they shall not be able to 

Now, if we also shall be able so to confute Free- We must 
will, as that our adversaries cannot resist ; even ^ e . cont . ent 
though they retain their own humour, and, in spite Tort^vic- 
of conscience, hold fast their resistance ; we shall tol> y- Our 
have done enough. For I have had abundant ex- *&%* 
perience, that no man chooses to be conquered ; confess 
and, as Quintilian says, there is no one who J imself 
would not rather seem to know, than to be a 
learner : although it be a sort of proverb in every 
body s mouth amongst us (from use, I should 
rather say abuse, more than affection), I wish to 
learn ; 1 am ready to be taught ; and, when 
taught better things, to follow them. I am a man; 
I may err. 3 The truth is, men use such expres 
sions as these, because, under this fair mask, as 
under a shew of humility, they are allowed con 
fidently to say, ( I am not satisfied; I do not 
understand him ; he does violence to the Scrip 
tures; he is an obstinate assertor: because they 
are sure, forsooth, that no one can suspect such 


TART ii. humble souls, as theirs, of being pertinacious in 

their resistance to truth ; and of making a stout 

attack upon her, when now they have even recog 
nised her presence/ So then, it ought not to be 
ascribed to their own perverseness, that they keep 
their old mind; but to the obscurity and ambiguity 
of the arguments, with which they are assailed. 

This was just the conduct of the Greek philo 
sophers also : that none of them might seem to 
yield to another, even though manifestly over 
come, they began to deny first principles as 
Aristotle recites. Meanwhile, we kindly persuade 
ourselves and others, that there are many good 
men in the world, who would be willing to em 
brace the truth, if they had but a teacher who 
could make things plain to them; and that it is 
not to be presumed, that so many learned men, 
through such a series of ages, have been in error, 
or that they have not thoroughly understood the 
truth. As if we did not know, that the world is 
the kingdom of Satan : in which, besides the 
blindness adherent as a sort of natural excres 
cence to our flesh, spirits even of the most mis 
chievous nature having dominion over us, we are 
hardened in that very blindness ; and now no 
longer held in chains of mere human darkness, 
but of a darkness imposed upon us by devils, 
sc.xvm. If the Scriptures then be quite clear, why have 

men of excellent understanding, you say, been for 

Why great go manv ao ;es blind upon this subiect? I answer, 

ircniuscs ^ * " 

have been they have been thus blind, unto the praise and 
Mind about glory of Freewill : that this magnificently boasted 
TiaTthat power, by which man is able to apply himself to 
they might those things which concern his everlasting salva- 

s Pertinacitcr resistcrc,fortiier impugnare. ] The unsuspected 
case was the real case : notwithstanding all his ostentatious 
professions of humility, Erasmus was not only rejecting- clearest 
evidences of truth which is bad enough but even lighting 
against what he knew to be truth which is far worse. 


tion; this power, I say, which neither sees what sc.xvin. 
it sees, nor hears what it hears much less under 
stands or seeks after these things ; might be 
shewn to be what it is. For to this belongs, what B ut no 
Christ and his Evangelists so often assert from wonder, 
Isaiah, " Hearing, ye shall hear and shall not natural 
understand ; and seeing, ye shall see and shall not man is 
perceive." What does this mean, but that the 
free will, or human heart, is so trodden under foot of God. 
of Satan, that, except it be miraculously 1 raised 
up by the Spirit of God, it cannot of itself either 
see or hear those things which strike upon the 
very eyes and ears, so manifestly as to be pal 
pable to the hand : such is the misery and blind 
ness of the human race. For it is thus, that even 
the Evangelists themselves, after expressing their 
wonder how it should happen that the Jews were 
not taken with the works and words of Christ 
which were absolutely irresistible and undeniable 
reply to their own expressions of wonder, by 
citing this passage of Scripture : by suggesting, 
forsooth, that man, left to himself, seeing sees not, 
and hearing hears not. What can be more mar 
vellous ? " The light," saith he, " shineth in 
darkness, and the darkness apprehendeth it not." 

h Mirabiliter suscitetur. ] Mir. would express either the na 
ture or the degree of influence exerted ; but here it must be the 
nature : the very least degree of the Holy Ghost s regenerating 
energy, applied to the natural soul, produces this result ; an 
energy which admits not of degrees. One soul is not more 
regenerated than another : and every such act of regeneration 
is a miracle ; an exercise of super-creation grace and of super 
natural power, effecting a supernatural constitution and state, 
in those that are the subjects of it. " Except a man be begotten 
from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." "Except a. 
man be begotten of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter 
into the kingdom of God." " Of his own will begat he us by the 
word of truth." "Everyone that doeth righteousness hath 
been begotten of him." 

1 See especially John xii. 3? 41. It is remarkable that this 
passage of Isaiah is quoted more often than any other in the 
New Testament ; being found in each of the Evangelists, in 
Acts xxviii, and in Horn. xi. 


PART ii. (John i. 5. k ) Who would believe this? who 
ever heard the like? that the light shineth in 
darkness; and yet the darkness remains darkness, 
and is not made light ? 

Besides, it is nothing wonderful, that men of 
excellent understanding have for so many ages 
been blind in divine things. In human things, it 
would be wonderful. In divine things, the wonder 
rather is, if one or two be not blind ; whilst it is 
no wonder at all, if all, without exception, be 
blind. For what is the whole human race, without 
the Spirit, but the kingdom of the devil, as I have 
said ; a confused chaos of darkness ? Whence 
Paul calls the devils, " the rulers of this dark 
ness ;" and says (1 Cor. ii. 8.), " None of the 
princes of this world knew the wisdom of God !" 
What do you suppose that he thought of the rest, 
when he asserts that the princes of the world were 
slaves of darkness ? For, by princes, he means 
the first and highest persons in the world : whom 
you call men of excellent understanding. Why 
were all the Arians blind ? Were there not, 
amongst them, men of excellent understanding ? 
Why is Christ "foolishness" to the Gentiles? 1 Are 
there not amongst the Gentiles men of excellent 
understanding? Why is he to the Jews " a stum 
bling-block?" Have there not been amongst the 
Jews men of excellent understanding? "God 
knoweth the thoughts of the wise," says Paul; 

k Apprehendunt .~] More proper than our version compre 
hend ; which implies compassing about/ and so (trans- 
latively) taking in the whole of a substance : ov Ka-rc\aftcv 
av-ro- did not lay hold of it, so as to possess it; did not 
receive, or admit the light; but (as Luther explains it) 
remained darkness still. See Sleusner in v. KcwaXa/afidvw 
excipio, admitto. 

1 1 Cor. i. 23. Our authorized version, and most copies, 
read " Greeks :" by which St. Paul frequently denominates 
that part of the world which is not Jewish ; as Rom. i. 16. 
It would seem to give more point to Luther s antithesis here : 
but " Gentiles " is the more authentic reading. See Gries- 
bach s text and note in loc. 


" for they are vain." He would not say, " of sc.xvin. 

?nen," as the text itself has it;" 1 but singles out 

6 the first and chiefest amongst men : that from 
these we may estimate the rest of them. 

But I shall perhaps speak more at large of these 
things, hereafter. Suffice it, for an exordium, to 
have premised that the Scriptures are most 
clear ; and that, by these our dogmas may be 
so defended, as that our adversaries shall not be 
able to resist/ Those dogmas, which cannot be 
so defended, are other people s; and do not belong 
to Christians. Now, if there be those who do riot 
see this clearness, and are blind, or stumble, in this 
sunshine ; these, on the supposition that they are 
ungodly men, shew how great is the majesty and 
power of Satan in the sons of men: even such, that 
they neither hear nor apprehend the clearest 
words of God. Just as if a man, beguiled by 
some sleight of hand trick, should suppose the 
sun to be a piece of unlighted coal, or should 
imagine" a stone to be gold! On the supposi 
tion that they are godly persons, let them be 
reckoned amongst those of the elect, who are led 
into error some little, that the power of God may 
be shewn in us : without which, we can neither see, 
nor do any thing at all. For, it is not weakness of 
intellect (as you complain), which hinders the 
words of God from being apprehended : on the 
contrary, nothing is more adapted to the appre 
hension of the words of God, than weakness of 
intellect. For, it is because of the weak, and unto 
the weak, that Christ both came, and also sends 
his word. But it is the mischievousness of Satan, 
who sits and reigns in our weakness, resisting the 

m Psalm xciv. 1 1 . 

n Putct, scnliat. ] Put. is rather matter of reasoning and 
argument ; sent, rather matter of sense. Both are intermixed 
here, though each has its distinct appropriation : he thinks 
about the sun, he handles the stone. A double error is pointed 
out by the illustration. These ungodly men assert what is not, 
and deny what is. 


PART II. word of God. If it were not for this acting of 

Satan, the whole world of men would be converted 

by one single word of God, once heard; nor would 
there be any need of more. 
sc. xix. And why do I plead long? why do we not 

finish the cause together with this exordium, and 

Erasmus g- ye sen tence agai nst you, on the testimony of your 
have ud- own words ? according to that saying of Christ, 
mittedthat a fjy thy words thou shalt be justified, and by 
thy words thou shalt be condemned." 11 (Matt. xii. 
37.) You assert, that the Scripture is not 
clear upon this point: and then, as though the 
sentence of the judge were suspended, you dis 
pute on both sides of the question, advancing all 
that can be said both for and against Freewill. 
This is all that you seek to gain by your whole per 
formance ; which, for the same reason, you have 
chosen to call a Diatribe rather than an Apophasis, q 
or any thing else : because you write with the in 
tention of bringing all the materials of the cause 
together, without affirming any thing. If the 
Scripture, then, be not plain, how comes it that 
those of whom you make your boast ; that is, so 
numerous a series of the most learned men, whom 
the consent of so many ages hath approved even 
to this very day ; are not only blind upon this 

Luther does not distinguish here, as he ought to do, be 
tween what Satan has made of us, and what Satan personally 
does in us. The soul of man, in its natural state, is so blinded 
and hardened and satanized, that, even if there were no imme 
diate agency of his upon any individual soul, the effect of 
f one or even many words of God (unaccompanied by his 
quickening Spirit) would not be such as Luther describes ; but 
it would still reject the truth ! 

p A forced application of the words. The Lord is there 
speaking of the words being a sure index of the mind. Luther 
seems to have got some confusion into his mind, from Luke 
xix. W. " Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, &c." 

1 A Greek term, which may express either affirmation or 
negation ; but here clearly denotes the former : with allu 
sion cither to the explicit avowal of private opinion $ or, to 
f the judge delivering- his sentence in court. 


subject, but even rash and foolish enough to de- sc.xix. 

fine and assert Freewill from the Scripture, as 

though that Scripture were positive and plain. 
The greater number of these men come recom 
mended to us, you say, not only by a wonderful 
knowledge of the sacred writings, but by piety of 
Jife. Some of them, after having defended the 
doctrine of Christ by their writings, gave testi 
mony to it with their blood. If you say this sin 
cerely, it is a settled thing with you, that Freewill 
has assertors endowed with wonderful skill in the 
Scriptures; who have borne witness to it as a part 
of Christ s doctrine with their blood. If this be 
true, they must have considered the Scripture as 
clear : else, how should they be said to possess a 
wonderful skill in the sacred writings? Besides, 
what levity and temerity of mind would it have 
been in them, to shed their blood for a thing that 
is uncertain and obscure ? This is not the act of 
Christ s martyrs, but of devils. 

r Now, therefore, do you also ( set before your 
eyes and weigh with yourself, whether you judge, 
that more ought to be attributed to the prior judg 
ments 5 of so many learned men, so many orthodox 
men, so many holy men, so many martyrs, so 
many ancient and modern theologians, so many 
universities, so many councils, so many bishops, 
and so many popes who have thought the Scrip 
tures clear, and have confirmed their opinion by 
their blood, as well as by their writings or to your 

r Jam et lu pone.] Luther here retorts Erasmus s own words 
upon him. " Et tamen illud interim lectorem admonitum vclini, 
si etc. . . .ut turn denique sibi ponat ob oculos tarn numerosam 
seriem eruditissimorumvirorumetc.. . .turn illud secumexpendut, 
utrum plus tribuendum esse judicet tot eruditorum, tot ortho- 
doxorumetc .... prsejucliciis, an uniusautalterius private judicio. 

8 Pr&judiciis.~] A forensic term, expressing either, 1. prece 
dents which apply to an undecided cause j or, L Z. matters 
relating to the cause in hand, which have already been decided ; 
or, 3. a previous judgment of the cause itself; as here. 
These men had sat in judgment upon this question before, and 
had decided it. 


PART ir. own single judgment which is that of a private 
individual denying the Scriptures to be clear: 
when, it may be, you have never sent forth one 
tear, or one sigh, for the doctrine of Christ. If 
you believe these men to have thought correctly, 
why not follow their example ? If otherwise, why 
boast yourself with such a puffed cheek and such 
a full mouth; as if you would overwhelm me with 
a sort of tempest and flood of words : which falls, 
however, with still greater force upon your own 
head, whilst my ark rides aloft in security. For 
you, in the same instant, attribute the greatest 
folly and temerity to these so many and so great 
ones ; when you write, that they were most skilful 
in the Scriptures, yet have asserted by their pen, 
by their life, and by their death, a sentiment 
which you nevertheless maintain to be obscure 
and ambiguous. What is this but to make them 
most ignorant in knowledge, and most foolish in 
assertion? I, their private despiser, should never 
have paid them such honour, as you, their public 
commender, do. 1 
SEC. xx. I hold you fast then, here, by a horned syllogism, 

as they call it: u for one or other of these two 

El . as " s things must be false ; either what you say, ( that 
a dilemma, these men were worthy to be admired for their 
knowledge of the sacred writings, life and mar 
tyrdom -, or what you say, that the Scripture 
is not plain/ But, since you would rather choose 

1 Privatus &c.] The substance is, Insignificant Luther, 
whom Erasmus taunted with his obscurity, and with his con 
tempt of these great men (though, in fact, he had only shaken 
off the yoke of their undue authority, without expressing any 
sentiment of contempt), would never have so vilified them in 
his privacy, as Erasmus the man of name and fame was 
doing by his public extolment of them. 

11 Cornuto sijUogismoJ] Corn. syll. Dilemma ; so called, be 
cause the horns of the argument are, in this kind of syllogism, 
so disposed, that to escape the one you must run upon the 
other. The term horns is applied to argumentation ; from 
a certain disposition of forces, as well naval as military, in 
which they resemble the horns of the crescent moon. 


to be driven upon this horn of the two, that the SEC.XX. 
Scripture is not plain (what you are driving at 
throughout} 7 our whole book); it remains, that you 
must have pronounced them to be most expert in 
Scripture, and martyrs for Christ, either in fun or 
in flattery certainly not seriously merely to 
throw dust in the eyes of the common people, and 
to give Luther trouble, by loading- his cause with 
hatred and contempt, through vain words. How 
ever, I pronounce neither true; but both false. 
I affirm, first, that the Scriptures are most clear; 
secondly, that those persons, so far as they assert 
Freewill, are most ignorant of the Scriptures; 
thirdly, that they made this assertion neither with 
their life, nor by their death, but only with their 
pen and that, under absence of mind. 

I do therefore conclude this little disputation/ 
thus. s By Scripture seeing that it is obscure 
nothing certain has yet been determined, or 
can be determined, on the subject of Freewill ; 
according to your own testimony/ That, by 
the lives of all men, from the beginning of the 
world, nothing has been shewn in support of 
Freewill/ is what I have argued above. Now, 
to teach any thing which is neither enjoined 
by a single word in Scripture, nor demonstrated 
by a single fact out of Scripture ; is no part 
of Christian doctrine, but belongs to the true 
stories of Lucian : x except that Lucian sporting 
as he does, on ludicrous subjects, in mere jest and 
wittingly deceives nobody and hurts nobody. But 

v Disputatiunculam. ] Disp. The diminutive implies a dis 
cussion subordinate to the main point in debate. 

x See Tart i. Sect. v. note f i. Lucian, the Epicurean philo 
sopher of Samosata, in Syria, ridiculed all religions ; and 
served Christianity, without meaning it, pretty much as 
Erasmus was doing by depreciating the fashionable and 
reigning idolatry. lie died wretchedly, A. D. 180. Much of 
his writings is in dialogue Erasmus s favourite composition 
with which he interweaves many true stories., of very doubt 
ful credit. 



PART ii. these antagonists of ours play the madman on a 

serious subject even one pertaining to eternal 

salvation to the destruction of innumerable 

SEC. xxr. Thus, too,, I might have put an end to this whole 
question about Freewill ; since even the testimony 
of my adversaries is on my side, and at war with 
theirs: whilst there is no stronger proof against an 
accused person, than his own proper testimony 
against himself. But, since Paul commands us to 
stop the mouths of vain babblers, let us take the 
very pith and matter of the cause in hand; treating 
it in the order in which Diatribe pursues her 
march. Thus, I will first confute the arguments 
adduced in behalf of Freewill ; secondly, de 
fend our own confuted ones ; and, at last, make 
my stand for the grace of God, in direct conflict 
with Freewill. 

claims vic 
tory al 
ready, but 
will pro 





Erasmus s Definition of Freewill examined. 

... ( ..< "! .!." !>. }) U / : :i I 

AND first, as in duty bound, I shall begin with 
your very definition of Freewill; which is as 
follows : 

Moreover, by Freewill here, I mean that power 
of the human will, whereby a man is able to apply 
himself to those things which lead to eternal sal 
vation, or to turn himself away from them/ 

With great prudence, doubtless, you lay down 
a naked a definition here; without opening any 
part of it, as is customary with others : afraid of 
more shipwrecks than one ! I am, therefore, com 
pelled to beat out the several parts of it, for my 
self. The thing defined, if it be strictly examined, 
is certainly of wider range than the definition : it 
is, therefore, what the Sophists would call a de 
fective definition ; such being their term for those 
which do not fill up the thing defined. b For I 
have shewn above, that Freewill belongs to none 
but God only. You might, perhaps with pro 
priety, attribute will to man; but to attribute free 
will to him, in divine things, is too much : since 
the term Freewill, in the judgment of all ears, is 

a Bald and bare ; without any appendage of amplification, 
resolution of parts, or illustration. 

b The idea is that of a mould not filled up : the definition is 
not commensurate with the thing defined. 

c See Part i. Sect xxv. note . 



PART in. properly applied to that winch can do, and which 

" " does, towards God, whatsoever it pleases; without 

being confined by any law, or by any command. 
You would not call a slave free, who acts under 
the command of his master. With how much 
less propriety do we call a man, or an angel, free : 
when they live under the most absolute subjec 
tion to God (to say nothing of sin and death), so 
as not to subsist for a moment by their own 

Instantly, therefore, even at the very doors of 
our argument, we have a quarrel between the de 
finition of the name, and the definition of the thing; 
the word signifying one thing, and the thing itself 
being understood to be another. It would be 
more properly called vertible will, or mutable will. 
For thus Augustine, and after him the Sophists, 
extenuates the glory and virtue of that word Free; 
adding this disparagement to it, i that they speak 
of the vertibility of the free will/ And so it 
would become us to speak, that we might avoid 
deceiving the hearts of men by inflated, vain, and 
pompous words : as Augustine also thinks, that we 
ought to speak in sober and plain words, observ 
ing a fixed rule. For, in teaching, a dialectic 
simplicity and strictness of speech is required; 
not big swelling words, and figures of rhetorical 
persuasion. d 
SECT. n. But, lest I should seem to take pleasure in 

fighting for a word, I will acquiesce, for the mo- 

Definition men f j n fljj s a } Juse o f terms, great and dano-erous 

continued ^ 

as it is; so far as to allow a free will to be the 
same as a Avertible will. I will also indulge 
Erasmus with making Freewill a power of the 
human will; as though Angels had it not : since, 
in this performance, he professes to treat only 

d A fixed rule/ opposed to whim, taste or chance ; sober/ 
opposed to extravagant / plain/ or proper/ opposed to 
figurative/ ( strictness of speech/ (i. e. words used in their 
own genuine and natural sense) opposed to metaphor/ logic* 
opposed to rhetoric/ 


of human Freewill : else, in this particular also, SECT. n. 

the definition had been narrower than the thing ~^ 


I hasten to those parts of the definition on 
which the subject hinges. Some of these are suf 
ficiently manifest; others flee the light, as though 
a guilty conscience made them afraid of every 
thing: yet a definition ought to be the plainest 
and most certain thing in the world; for to define 
obscurely, is just like not defining at all. These 
parts are plain : a power of the human will ; 
also, by which a man is able ; also, ( unto eter 
nal salvation : but those words, ( to apply him 
self; and again, those things which lead; 
and again, to turn away himself; are words 
of the hoodwinked fencer. 6 What shall we 
then divine that saying, to apply himself, to 
mean? Again, f to turn away himself? What 
are those words, e which lead to eternal salvation ? 
What corner are they slinking into ? I have to do, 
as I perceive, with a very Scotus or Heraclitus; f 
who wears me out with two sorts of labour. 
First, I have to go in search of my adversary, and 
to grope for him in the dark, amidst pitfalls, with 
a palpitating heart (a daring and dangerous en- 

c Andabat(e^} A man fighting in the dark, with his eyes 
blinded : a name given (quasi avafia-rai s i\e.uvra.vafta-rai) to cer 
tain fencers, or gladiators, who fought on horseback with their 
eyes covered ; or, more properly, to the man who went up 
into the chariot to fight with the charioteer. It was one of 
the games of the Circus ; of which the peculiarity consisted in 
the conflict being maintained in the dark. Jerome has the ex 
pression, More andabatarum, gladium in tenebris ventilans ; 
with allusion to the former of these customs. 

f Scotus.] The celebrated Duns Scotus, a Franciscan ; the great 
opponent of Thomas Aquinas, the Dominican. He acquired 
the name of the subtile doctor ; as his opponent did that of 
the angelic. Heradltus, the weeping philosopher, was 
characterised as tenebrosus, or obscure ; from the enig 
matical style in which he communicated his reveries. Socrates 
is said to have expressed an admiration of some of his pieces, 
so far as he could understand them ; but to have intimated 
the danger there was of being drowned in his incomprehensible 



PART in. terprise) ; and, if I do not find him, to fight with 
hobgoblins, and beat the air in the dark, to no pur 
pose. Secondly, if I shall have dragged him into 
the light; then at length, when I am worn out 
with the pursuit, I have to close with him in 
equal fight. 

By ( a power of the human will/ then, is meant, 
as I suppose, an ability, or faculty, or disposedness, 
or suitedness, to will, to refuse, to choose, to de 
spise, to approve, to reject, and to perform whatever 
other actions there are of the human will. But, 
what is meant by this same power applying itself 
and turning away itself; except it be this very 
willing and refusing, this very choosing and de 
spising, this very approving and rejecting; in 
short, except it be the will performing its very 
office ; I see not. So that we must suppose this 
power to be a something interposed between the 
will itself and its actings: a power, by which the 
will itself draws out the operation of willing and 
refusing, and by which that very act of willing and 
refusing is elicited. It is not possible to imagine 
or conceive any thing else here. If I be mistaken, 
let the fault be charged upon the author who de 
fines, not upon me who am searching out his mean 
ing. For, it is rightly said by the jurists, that the 
words of him who speaks obscurely, when he 
might speak more plainly, are to be interpreted 
against himself. And here, by the way, I could 
be glad to know nothing of these Moderns, 8 with 
whom I have to do, and their subtleties : for we 
must be content to speak grossly, 1 that we may 
teach and understand. The things which lead to 


eternal salvation/ are the words and works of 

6 Moderni."} Quasi Iwdierni. The subtile doctor and his con 
temporaries, together with those who had preceded them, from 
Peter Lombard downwards, were but men of to-day; as 
compared with the ancient logicians, and with the Fathers. 
Also, the Schoolmen were divided into three classes, like the 
Academics; old, middle, and new. Scotus was of the last. 

h Crassc. ] Dull, heavy, fat-headed / as contrasted with their 
wire-drawn refinements. 


God, I suppose : which are set before the human SECT. in. 

will, that it may either apply itself to them, or turn 

away from them. By the words of God, I mean 
as well the Law as the Gospel : works are de 
manded by the Law; faith by the Gospel. 1 For 
there are no other things that lead either to the 
grace of God, or to eternal salvation, save the 
word arid work of God : since grace, or the 
Spirit, is the life itself; to which we are led by 
the word and work of God. k 

But this life, or eternal salvation, is a thing in- Definition 
comprehensible to human conception ; as Paul conlmued - 
cites from Isaiah (1 Cor. ii. 9.): " What eye hath 
not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into 
the heart of man, are the things which God hath 
prepared for them that love him." For this also 
is placed amongst the chief articles of our faith : 
in confessing which we say, and the life ever 
lasting/ And what the power of Freewill as to 
receiving this article is, Paul declares in I Cor. 
ii. 10. " God," saith he, " hath revealed them to 
us by his Spirit." As if he should say, except 
the Spirit shall have revealed them, no man s 
heart will know or think any thing about them ; 
so far is it from being able to apply itself there 
unto, or to covet them/ 

Consult experience. What have the most ex 
cellent wits amongst the heathens thought of a 

1 Luther speaks here, as theological writers commonly do. 
But the truth is ; the Law required faith, and the Gospel re 
quires works : though the form of the two several dispensations 
was such as Luther represents them. The Law was designed 
to shut the Church up unto faith ; the Gospel, to open it, by 
that faith which is itself a work (for " this is the work of God 
that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." John vi. 29.) to 
those works which alone are acceptable to Gocl ; viz. the 
actings and manifestations of a self-emptied, contrite, and 
believing soul. 

k He speaks not of any particular word or work of God, but 
of his whole word, and of his whole work ; excepting only 
what he does, by his special grace, in and upon the hearts of 
his people. 


PART in. future life, and of the resurrection? Has it not 

- been, that, the more they excelled in genius, the 
more ridiculous did the resurrection,, and eternal 
life, appear to them. Except you will say, that 
those philosophers and other Greeks, who called 
Paul a babbler, 1 and an assertor of new Gods, 
when he taught these things at Athens, were not 
men of genius. Porcius Fcstus calls Paul a mad 
man, in Acts xxvi. m (ver. 24.) for preaching eter 
nal life. What does Pliny bark about these 
things, in his seventh book? What says Lucian, 
so great a wit? Were these men stupid? Nay, it 
is true of most men, even at this day, that the 
greater their genius and erudition, the more they 
laugh at this article, and account it a fable ; and 

[that openly. For, as to the secret soul, no man 
positively, except he be sprinkled Avith the Holy 
Ghost, either knows, or believes in, or wishes for 
eternal salvation, even though he may make fre 
quent boast of it with his voice and with his pen. 
Would to God that you and I, my Erasmus, were 
free from this same leaven ! so rare is a believing 
mind, as applied to this article. Have I hit the 
sense of your definition ? 
SECT. iv. So then, Freewill, according to Erasmus, is a 

- power of the will, which is able, of itself, to will 

not to w ^ ^ ie wor ^ an( l work of God ; by 

defi- which word and work, it is led to those things 
nition. which exceed both its sense and thought. But 

1 Babbler. ] STre/^o Aoryo? is a term of contempt, applied pro 
perly to persons who went about the forum picking up the 
seeds and crumbs, or whatever else might fall between buyer 
and seller, and making a living out of them. Hence applied 
to a loose, ignorant, unordered, and unmeasured speaker ; one 
who retails the sort of refuse, common-place scraps, which he 
has picked up in the streets. New Gods, not in the invidious, 
or disparaging sense of demons, or of r/^ioi/es ; but some addi 
tional deities : objects of worship, having the same sort of 
claim to reverence which the rest of their multiplied divinities 

m He says, Acts xxiv. j but the allusion is manifestly to 
Acts xxvi. 


if it be able to will and to refuse, it is able also SECT. iv. 

to love and to hate. If it be able to love- and to 

hate, it is able also, in some small degree, to do the 
deeds of the Law, and to believe the Gospel : be 
cause if you will, or refuse a certain thing, it is 
impossible but that you must be able to work 
something- towards it, by means of that will, even 
though you be not able, through another s hinder 
ing, to finish it. Now, since death, the cross, and 
all the evils of the world are numbered amongst 
those works of God which lead to salvation ; the 
human will must be able to choose even death and 
the man s own destruction. Nay, it is able to 
will all things ; whilst it is able to will the word 
and work of God. For, what can there be any 
where, that is below, above, within, or without, the 
word and work of God; save God himself? 11 And 
what is now left to grace, and the Holy Spirit? 
This is manifestly to attribute divinity to Free 
will : since to will the Law and the Gospel, to re 
ject sin, and to choose death, is the property of 
divine virtue exclusively; as Paul teaches in more 
places than one. 

Hence it appears, that no man, since the Pela 
gians days, has written more correctly on Free 
will, than Erasmus has. For I have said before, 
that Freewill is a term peculiar to God, and ex 
presses a divine perfection. However, no man 
has attributed this divine power to it hitherto, 
except the Pelagians : for the Sophists, whatever 
they may think, certainly speak very differently 
about it. Nay, Erasmus far exceeds the Pela 
gians : for they attribute this divinity to the whole 
of the free will, Erasmus to half of it. They make 
Freewill to consist of two parts; a power of dis- 

n IntrvL extrti.] On this side of it, or beyond it : which, when 
joined with the preceding words infra, suprV express the 
universal comprehension of the word and work of God; as 
containing all that is above, beneath, and on all sides of us 
with only one exception. 



PART ill. cerning, and a power of choosing: of which they 

feign the one to belong to the understanding, and 

the other to the will ; as the Sophists also do. But 
Erasmus, making no mention of the pOAver of dis 
cerning, confines his praises to the power of 
choosing, singly ; and so deifies a sort of crippled 
and half-begotten Freewill. What would he have 
done, think you, if lie had been set to describe the 
whole of this faculty ? 

Yet, not content with this, he even exceeds the 
heathen philosophers. For they have not yet 
determined t whether any substance can put itself 
into motion; and on this point, the Platonics and 
Peripatetics differ from each other, throughout the 
whole body of their philosophy. But, according 
to Erasmus, Freewill not only moves itself, but 
applies even to those things which are eternal ; 
that is, incomprehensible to itself; by its own 
power. A perfectly new and unheard-of definer 
of Freewill; who leaves heathen philosophers, 
Pelagians, Sophists, and all others, far behind 
him ! Nor is this enough : he does not even spare 
himself, but even disagrees and fights with him 
self, more than with all the rest. He had before 
said, the human will is altogether inefficacious 
without grace; (did he say this in jest?) but 
now, when he defines it seriously, he tells us that 
the human will possesses that power, whereby it 
is efficacious to apply itself to those things which 
are belonging to eternal salvation; that is, to 
those things which are incomparably above its 
power. Thus Erasmus is, in this place, superior 
even to himself also. 

SECT.V. j) y OU p erc eive, my Erasmus, how, by this 
~ definition, you (without meaning it, as I suppose) 

Erasmus s , tc\ i i i i 1 ,T 

definition betray yourself to be one who understands nothing 

Erasmus lias made Freewill greater than itself. Luther 
puns upon this, and intimates that he has even out-heroded. 
Herod here ; not only exceeding philosophers, &c. but ercn 
his own extravagant self. 


at all about these things, or who writes OQ them SECT. v. 
in sheer thoughtlessness and contempt, without 
proving what he says, or what he affirms. As I 
have remarked before, you say less, and claim of the 
more, for Freewill, than all the rest of its advo- s P hists - 
cates have done : inasmuch as you do not even 
describe the whole of Freewill, and yet assign 
every thing to it. The Sophists (or at least their 
father, Peter Lombard) deliver what is far more 
tolerable to us, when they affirm, that Freewill is 
the faculty of first discerning good from evil, and 
then choosing good or evil according as grace be 
present, or be wanting. p He agrees entirely with 
Augustine, that Freewill, by its own strength, 
cannot but fall ; and has no power, save to com 
mit sin/ On which account, Augustine says, it 
should be called Bondwill, rather than Freewill; 
in his second book against Julian. 

But you represent the power of Freewill to be 
equal on both sides, inasmuch as it can, by its 
own strength, without grace, both apply itself to, 
and turn away itself/row good. You are not aware 
how much you attribute to it by this pronoun 
itself/ or its own self/ whilst you say, ( it can 
apply itself! In fact, you exclude the Holy 
Spirit with all his power, as altogether super 
fluous and unnecessary. Your definition is there 
fore damnable, even in the judgment of the 
Sophists ; who, if they were not so maddened 
against me by the blindings of envy, would rave 
at your book rather than mine. But, since you 
attack Luther, you say nothing but what is holy 
and catholic/ even though you contradict both 
yourself and them. So great is the patience of 
the saints/ 

p They ascribed the power of discerning 1 , out of hand; but 
the power of choosing 1 good, conditionally. 

q Catholicum .] Catk. Ad oinnes pcrtinens, quod ubique et 
Jipud omnes disseminatum est, et ab omnibus recipi debet. 
What all are bound to receive as true. 

r A sarcastic allusion to Rev. xiii. 10. xiv. 12. 


PART in. I do not say this as approving the sentence of 

the Sophists on Freewill, but as thinking it more 

tolerable than that of Erasmus ; because they 
approach nearer to the truth : but neither do they 
affirm, as I do, that Freewill is a mere nothing. 
Still, inasmuch as they affirm (the Master of the 
Sentences 5 in particular) that it has no power of 
itself without grace, they are at war with Eras 
mus ; nay, they seem to be at war also with them 
selves, and to be torturing one another with dis 
putes about a mere word : being fonder of con 
tention than of truth, as becometii Sophists. For, 
suppose a Sophist of no bad sort to come in my 
way, with whom I were holding familiar conversa 
tion and conference upon these matters in a corner; 
and whose candid and free judgment I should ask, 
in some such way as this : t If any one should pro 
nounce that free to you, which, by its own power, 
can but incline to one side (that is, to the bad 
side) ; having power, it is true, on the other side 
(that is, on the good side) but that, by a virtue 
not its own ; nay, simply by the help of another : 
could you refrain from laughing, my friend ? For, 
upon this principle, I shall easily make it out that 
, a stone, or the trunk of a tree, has Freewill ; as 
being that which can incline both upwards and 
; downwards ; by its own power, indeed, only 
downwards; yet, by another s help, and by that 
only, upwards also. And thus, as I have before 
said, by an inverted 1 use of all languages and 
words, we shall at length come to say, ( No man 
is all men; ( nothing is every thing: as refer 
ring the one term to the thing itself, and the 

s Master &c. A title with which Peter Lombard was dig 
nified, from his work entitled The Sentences; by which he 
was svipposed to have rendered the same service to Divinity, 
which Gratian, his contemporary, had done to Law. He was 
the father of scholastic theology, which succeeded to that of 
the Fathers ; his work being considered as the great source of 
that science, in the Latin church. He died A. D. 1164. 

1 Turning words topsy-turvy. 


oilier to some other thing-, which is no part of SECT.VI. 

it, but may possibly be present to it and befal 


It is in this way, that, after endless disputings, 
they make the free will to be free by an accident; 
viz. as being that which may be made free by 
another. But the question is about the freedom 
of the will, as it is in itself, and in its own sub 
stance : and if this be the question resolved, there 
remains nothing but an empty name for Freewill, 
whether they will or no. The Sophists fail in this 
also ; that they assign a power of discerning good 
from evil, to Freewill. They also lower regene 
ration, and the renewal of the Holy Ghost ; and 
claim that extrinsic aid, as a sort of outward ap 
pendage to Freewill:" of which I shall say more 
hereafter. But enough of your definition: Jet us 
now see the arguments which are to swell out 
this empty little word. x 

The first is that taken from Eccl us . xv. (vv. 15 Eccis. xv. 

18.) " The Lord made man from the beginning. 15 ~l 8 , 
i i xv i *i i i c u- i IT? considered - 

and lett him in the hand ot his own counsel. He 

added his commands, and his precepts. If thou 
shalt be willing to keep his commandments, and 
to perform acceptable faithfulness for ever, they 
shall preserve thee. He hath set fire and water 
before thee ; stretch forth thy hand unto whether 

u For example ; Nothing is all things. Why, God made 
all things of nothing. You might call that nothing, all 
things ; but it would be, by referring the term nothing to 
the thing itself, and all things to the existent one ; who 
being present communicates being (which he has in himself) 
to this nothing. 

v Velut extern^ affingunt.~] The gift of the Spirit, though 
of course not inherent, they represented as inseparably at 
tached to the free will ; and so, communicated as matter of 

x Inffitura. ] A figure taken from blowing a bladder, or 
from raiding a bubble, or from making a musical instrument 
to sound aloud : to give size, or substance, or sound, to this 
empty, speechless thing. 


PART HI. thou wilt. Before man is life and death, good 
and evil, whether him liketh shall be given 
him." y 

Although I might justly reject this book, for 
the moment I admit it ; that I may not lose my 
time by involving myself in a dispute about 
the books received into the Hebrew canon: which 
you ridicule and revile not a little ; comparing the 
Proverbs of Solomon and the Love-song (as you 
by an ambiguous sort of jeer entitle it) with the 
two books of Esdras, Judith, the history of Susan 
nah and of the Dragon, and Esther. 2 This last, 
however, they have received into their canon ; 
although, in my judgment, deserving, more than 
all the rest, to be excluded. But I would answer 
briefly, in your own words : c the Scripture is ob 
scure and ambiguous in this passage ; it there 
fore proves nothing with certainty : and, main 
taining as we do the negative, I demand of you to 
produce a place which proves what Freewill is, 
and what Freewill can effect, by clear words. 
Perhaps you will do this on the Greek calends. a 
Howbeit, to avoid this necessity, you waste many 
good words in marching over the ears of corn, b 

y The Greek text, from which our authorized version is a 
faithful translation, omits the words conservabunt te, arid 
adjecit mandate et prsccepta sua. Also in verse 17 , bonum 
et malum. The Syriac, or vulgar Hebrew, in which this book 
was originally written, is lost ; although Jerom professes to 
have seen it. What Jesus the Son of Sirach produced in the 
Syriac, his grandson translated into Greek, for the benefit of 
his countrymen in Egypt 5 Avho, by long disuse, had forgotten 
the Hebrew tongue. 

z The rest of the chapters of the Book of Esther, which are 
found neither in the Hebrew, nor the Chaldee. 

a Gr&cas calendas.~\ A day that will never come ; a Latin pro 
verb taken from the Greeks having no calends to their months, 
as the Latins had. 

b Super aristas inccdisJ] Applied proverbially, to f one who 
affirms nothing absolutely : he skims the ears of corn, fearing 
to set his foot on them. 


and reciting so many opinions on Freewill, that SECT.VI. 

you almost make Pelagius evangelical. Again; 

you invent four kinds of .grace, that you may be 
able to assign some sort of faith and charity, even 
to the heathen philosophers. Again ; you invent 
that threefold law of nature, works, and faith : 
a new figment, by which you enable yourself to 
maintain, that the precepts of the heathen philo 
sophers have a mighty coincidence with the pre 
cepts of the Gospel. Then again ; you apply 
that affirmation in Psalm iv. " The light of thy 
countenance has been marked upon us, Lord;" d 
which speaks of the knowledge of the very 
countenance of God (that is, of an operation 
of faith) to blinded reason. Now, let any Chris 
tian put all these things together, and he will 
be obliged to suspect that you are sporting and 
jesting with the dogmas and worship of Chris 
tians. For I find it most difficult indeed to at 
tribute all this to ignorance, in a man who has 
so thoroughly ransacked 6 all our documents, 
and so diligently treasured them up and remem 
bered them. But I will abstain for the present, 
content with this short hint; till a fitter op 
portunity shall oifer itself. But let me beg of 
you, my Erasmus, not to tease us any more in 
this way, with your Who sees me? nor is it 
safe, in so weighty a matter, to be continually 

c Pelagius. ] The great lieresiarch of Freewill, in the fifth 
century 5 a native of Wales, and as is supposed, a monk of Ban- 
go r ; who exchanged his original name of Morgan, for the more 
imposing one of Pelagius. 

u lie read Psalm iv. 6 . "Lord lift thou"up," &c. as a prayer; 
but it may with equal propriety he read as an affirmation. 

c Nostra omnia sic perhtstnwit. ] I refer the nostra oinnia 
to the sacred records, the authorized documents of Chris 
tianity ; not the writings of Luther and his friends. Pcrlustr. 
does not express real insight into the things contained in 
those documents, but complete outside inspection. This 
is just the sort of knowledge which Luther would choose to 
ascribe to him, and which is amply sufficient to exempt him 
from the plea of ignorance. 


in. playing at making Vertumnuses of words, with 

- every body. 1 

SEC. VH. You make three opinions on Freewill, out of 
one ; accounting that a harsh one/ which denies 
that a mau can W ^ good without special grace ; 

stated. which denies that he can begin any thing good, 
denies that he can go on with any thing good, de 
nies that he can complete any thing good. But 
though harsh, you account it highly approvable. 
It approves itself to you, as leaving man in pos 
session of desire and endeavour, but not leaving 
him any thing to ascribe to his OAvn powers. The 
opinion of those who maintain that Freewill can 
do nothing but sin ; that only grace works good 
in us ; seems still more harsh to you : but most 
of all, that opinion which affirms Freewill to be an 
empty name, God working both good and evil in 
us. It is against these two last opinions, that you 
profess to write. 

SEC.VIII. Do you even know what you are saying, my 
Erasmus ? You make three opinions here, as if 
they were the opinions of three different sects ; 
not perceiving, that it is the same thing declared 
in different words, with a twofold variety, by us, 
the same persons, and professors of one sect. 
But let me warn you of your carelessness, or dull 
ness of intellect; and expose it. 

I ask then, how does the definition of Freewill, 
which you have given above, correspond with 
this first opinion of yours ; which you declare to 

{ Us, opposed to every body. He represents him as 
playing at peep with the learned ; and as deceiving the people by 
his tricks upon words, by which he gave the same word as 
many faces as Vertumnus. He plagued the wise ; he deceived 
the vulgar. Vertumnus had many faces : hence, Vertumnis 
verborum ludere, to play at making words like Vertumnus ; 
that is, different in appearance, whilst really the same. Eras 
mus could say and unsay every thing, by his copiousness, ver 
satility, and ambiguity of words. 

g Erasmus does not introduce the \vord harsh in describing 
this first opinion j Luther ascribes it to him, as implied in his 
description of the other two. 


_ * 

be lug hly approvable ? For you have said, that SEC - IX> 
Freewill is a power of the human will, by which a 
man can apply himself to good. But here you 
say, and approve its being said, that a man can 
not will good, without grace. Your definition 
affirms what its illustration denies ; and there is 
found ( a yea and nay in your Freewill : so that 
you at the same time both approve and condemn 
us ; nay, condemn and approve yourself, in one 
and the same dogma and article. 1 Do you not 
think it good, that it applies itself to those things 
which pertain to everlasting salvation? This is 
what your definition attributes to Freewill; and 
yet there is no need of grace, if there be so much 
of good in Freewill that it can apply itself to 
good. So then, the Freewill which you define, is 
a different thing from the Freewill which you de 
fend ; and Erasmus has two Freewills more than 
others have, and those quite at variance with each 

But, dismissing that Freewill which your defini- Theappro- 
tion has invented, let us look at this contrary one, ^onS*- 
which the opinion itself sets before us. You grant, sidered. 
that a man cannot will good without special grace ; 
and we are not now discussing what the grace of 
God can do, but what man can do without grace. 
You grant therefore, that Freewill cannot will 
good. This is nothing else, than that it cannot 
li | apply itself to those things which appertain to 
eternal salvation, as you sung out in your defini 
tion. Nay, you say a little before, that the hu 
man will is so depraved, that, having lost its 
liberty, it is compelled to serve sin, and cannot 
store itself to any better sort of produce. If I 
o not mistake, you represent the Pelagians to 
have been of this opinion. Now, I think there is 
no escape here for my Proteus. He is caught and 

h The definition says, can apply itself to those things, &c. f 
The approvable opinion says, cannot will good. 


PART in. held by open words ; to wit, the will, having lost 
its liberty, is driven into, and held fast in, the ser 
vice of sin. O exquisite Freewill which, having 
lost its freedom, is declared by Erasmus himself to 
be the servant of sin ! When Luther said this, 
6 nothing had ever been heard that is more ab 
surd / ( nothing could be published that is more, 
mischievous than this paradox/ Diatribes must 
be written against him ! 

But perhaps nobody will take my word for it, 
that Erasmus has really said these things : let 
this passage of Diatribe be read, and it will excite 
wonder. Not that I am greatly surprised. The 
man who does not account this a serious subject, 
and is never affected with the cause he is pleading, 
but is altogether alienated from it in heart, and is 
tired of it, and chills under it, or nauseates it how 
can such an one do otherwise than here and there 
say absurd things, incongruous things, discordant 
things? pleading the cause as he does, like a 
drunken or sleeping man, who belches out yes/ 
no/ as the sounds fall variously upon his ears. 
It is on this account, that rhetoricians require feel 
ing in an advocate; and much more does theology 
require such a degree of emotion in her champion, 
as shall render him vigilant, sharpsighted, intent, 
thoughtful, and strenuous. 
SECT. x. If then Freewill, without grace, having lost her 

freedom, is obliged to serve sin, and cannot will 

T a h b e 1( fP p ~ good ; I should like to know what that desire, 

nionfur- what that endeavour is, which this first and appro- 

t ! ie | c " n - vable opinion leaves to a man? It cannot be good 

desire, it cannot be good endeavour : because he 

cannot will good ; as the opinion says, and as you 

have conceded. Evil desire, therefore, and evil 

endeavour are alone left ; which, now that liberty 

is lost, are compelled to serve sin. And what is 

meant, pray, by that saying This opinion leaves 

1 ( It leaves man in possession of desire and endeavour/ &c^ 


^_^- * > ^ 

desire and endeavour, but leaves not that which SEC. XL 

may be ascribed to the man s own powers ? Who 

can conceive this ? If desire and endeavour be 
left to Freewill, why should they not be ascribed 
to it ? If they are not to be ascribed, how can 
they be left? Are this desire and endeavour, 
which subsist before grace, left even to that very 
grace which is to come, and not to Freewill ; so 
as to be at the same time left, and not left, to this 
same Freewill? If these be not paradoxes, or 
rather monsters, I know not what monsters are. 

But perhaps Diatribe is dreaming, that there is Freewill 
a something between this being able to will good, not ane- 
aud not being able to will good, which is the mere feTmediate 
power of willing ; distinct from any regard to good power of 
or evil. Thus, we are to evade the rocks by a the Wlll>> 
sort of logical subtilty; affirming, that there is, in 
the will of man, a certain power of willing, which 
cannot indeed incline to good without grace, and 
yet even without grace does not forthwith will 
only evil : a pure and simple power of willing; 
\\hich may be turned by grace upwards to good, 
and by sin downwards to evil. But what then 
becomes of that saying, ( having lost its liberty, 
it is compelled to serve sin ? Where then is 
that desire and endeavour which is left ? 
Where is that power of applying itself to those 
things which belong to eternal salvation ? For that 
power of applying itself to salvation cannot be a 
mere abstract power of willing, unless salvation 
itself be called nothing. Then, again, desire and 
endeavour cannot be a mere power of willing; 
Isince desire must lean and endeavour some 
.vhither, and cannot be carried towards nothing*, 
or remain quiescent. In short, whithersoever 
Diatribe shall be pleased to turn herself, she can- 
lot escape contradictions, and conflicting expres- 
;ions : so that even Freewill herself is not so much 
t captive, as Diatribe who defends her. She so en- 
angles herself, in her attempts to give liberty to 


PART ill. the will, that she gets bound with indissoluble 

chains, in company with her freedmaid. 

Then, again, it is a mere fiction of logic, that 
there is this middle faculty of mere willing in 
man ; nor can those prove, who assert it. Igno 
rance of things, and servile regard to words, has 
given birth to this fancy ; as if the will must 
straightway be such in substance, as we set it out 
in words. The Sophists have numberless fig 
ments of this sort. The truth rather is, what 
Christ says, " He that is not with me is against 
me." He does not say, He that is not with me, 
nor against me, but in the middle/ For, if God 
be in us, Satan is absent, and only to will good is 
present with us. If God be absent, Satan is pre 
sent, and there is no will in us but towards evil. 
Neither God, nor Satan, allows a mere abstract 
power to will in us ; but, as you have rightly said, 
having lost our liberty, we are compelled to serve 
sin ; that is, we will sin and wickedness ; we speak 
sin and wickedness ; we act sin and wickedness. 
See into what a corner Diatribe has been driven, 
without knowing it, by invincible and most mighty 
truth ; who has made her wisdom folly, and com 
pelled her, when meaning to speak against us, to 
speak for us, and against herself: just as Free 
will does, when she attempts any thing good ; for 
then, by opposing evil, she most of all does evil, 
and opposes good. Thus Diatribe is much such a 
speaker, as Freewill is an actor. Indeed, the 
whole Diatribe itself is nothing else but an ex 
cellent performance of Freewill, condemning by 
defending, and defending by condemning;" that is, 
twice a fool, whilst she would be thought wise. , 

The first opinion, then, as compared with itself, 
Thea " is such as to deny that man can will any thing 
provable good, and yet to maintain that desire is left to him; 

k Not only ruining her own cause, but establishing her 
adversary s/ 


and yet that this desire also is not his. Let us SEC. xii. 

now compare it with the other two. The second 

is harsher, which judges that Freewill has no P inion 

, / -P rru - compared 

power but to commit sin/ Ihis, however, is with the 
Augustine s opinion; expressed in many other other two. 
places, and specially in his treatise on the Letter 
and Spirit (the fourth or fifth chapter, if I am not 
mistaken), where he uses these very words. 

That third opinion is the harshest of all, which 
maintains that Freewill is an empty name, and that 
all we do is necessarily under the bondage of sin. 
Diatribe wages war with these two. Here, I 
admit that probably I may not be German enough, 
or Latinist enough, to enunciate the subject matter 
perspicuously; but I call God to witness, that I 
meant to say nothing else, and nothing else to be 
understood, by the expressions used in these two 
last opinions, than what is asserted in the first 
opinion. Nor did Augustine, I think, mean any 
thing else ; nor do I understand by his words any 
thing else, than what the first opinion asserts. So 
that the three opinions recited by Diatribe are, in 
my view, but that one sentiment, which I have 
promulgated. For, when it has been conceded 
and settled, that Freewill, having lost her freedom, 
is compelled into the service of sin, and has no 
power to will any thing good; I can conceive no 
thing else from these expressions, but that Free 
will is a bare word ; the substance expressed by 
that word having been lost. Lost liberty my art 
of grammar calls no liberty at all ; and to attri 
bute the name of liberty to that which has no 
liberty, is to attribute a bare name to it. If I 
wander from truth here, let who can recal me 
from my wanderings ; if my words be obscure 
and ambiguous, let who can make them plain, and 
confirm them. I cannot call lost health, health ; 
and if I should ascribe such a property to a sick 
man, what have I given him but a bare name ? 

But away with such monstrous expressions ! 


PART in. For, who can bear that abuse of language,, by 

which we affirm that man has Freewill; yet, with 

the same breath, assert that he has lost his liberty, 
and is compelled into the service of sin, and can 
will nothing good. Such expressions are at vari 
ance with common sense, and absolutely destroy 
the use of speech. Diatribe is to be accused, 
rather than we ; she blurts out her own words as 
if she were asleep, and gives no heed to what is 
spoken by others. She does riot consider, I say, 
what it is, and of what force it is, to declare that 
man has lost his liberty, is compelled to serve sin, 
and has no power to do any thing good. For, if 
she were awake and observant, she would clearly 
see that the meaning of the three opinions, which 
she makes diverse and opposite, is one and the 
same. For the man who has lost his liberty, who 
is compelled to serve sin, and Avho cannot will 
good what shall be inferred more correctly con 
cerning this man, than that he does nothing but 
sin, or will evil ? Even the Sophists would 
establish this conclusion by their learned syllo 
gisms. So that Madam Diatribe is very unfor 
tunate in entering the lists with these two last 
pillions, whilst she approves the first, which is 
the same with them ; again, as her manner is, 
condemning herself., and expressing approbation 
of my sentiments, in one and the same article. 

sc. xni. Let us now return to the passage in Ecclesias- 

ticus; comparing that first opinion, which you de- 

Ecciesias- c ] a re to be approvable, with it also, as we have 
H^ now done with the other two. The opinion says, 
sumed,and c Freewill cannot will good. The passage from 
expounded. E cc i es i as ti cu s is cited to prove, that < Freewill is 

nothing, and can do nothing/ The opinion which 
is to be confirmed by Ecclesiasticus, then, de 
clares one thing, and the passage from Eccle 
siasticus is alleged to confirm another. As if a 
man, going to prove that Christ is Messias, should 
adduce a passage which proves that Pontius 


Pilate was Governor of Syria ; or something else, SEC.XIII. 

which is as wide from it as the extreme notes of the """ 

double octave. 1 Just such is your proof of Free 
will here : not to mention, what I have dispatched 
already, that nothing is here clearly and certainly 
affirmed, or proved, as to what Freewill is, and can 
do. But it is worth while to examine this whole 

In the first place, he says, e God made man in 
the beginning. Here he speaks of the creation 
of man, and says nothing, hitherto, either about 
Freewill, or about precepts. 

It follows ; and left him in the hand of his own 
counsel/ What have we here ? Is Freewill 
erected here? Not even here is any mention 
made of precepts, for which Freewill is required ; 
nor do we read a syllable on this subject, in the his 
tory of the creation of man. If any thing be meant, 
therefore, by the words in the hand of his 
counsel, it must rather be, what we read in the 
first and second chapters of Genesis : Man was 
appointed lord of the things which were made, so 
as to have a free dominion over them / as Moses 
says, " Let us make man, and let him have domi 
nion over the fishes of the sea, &c." Nor can 
any thing else be proved from these words. For 
in that state, man had power to deal with the 
creatures according to his own will, they being 
made his subjects ; and he calls this man s coun 
sel, in opposition to God s counsel. But after 
this, when now he has declared man to have been 
thus constituted the ruler, and to have been left 
in the hand of his own counsel ; he goes on, 

" He added his own commands and precepts." 
To what did he add them ? Why, to the counsel 
and will of man; and over and above that esta 
blishment of the dominion of man over the rest of 

1 Quod disdiapason conveniat.] A Greek proverb, denoting 
the greatest possible dissimilitude. 


PART in. the creatures. By these precepts, he took away 
from man the dominion over one part of his crea 
tures (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, 
for instance), and rather willed that it should not 
be free. Having mentioned the adding of pre 
cepts, he next comes to man s will towards God, 
and the things of God. 

" If thou shalt be willing to keep the command 
ments, they shall preserve thee, &c." From this 
place, then, ( if thou shalt be willing/ the ques 
tion about Freewill begins. So that we may 
learn from the Preacher, that man is divided be 
tween two kingdoms ; in the one of which, he is 
borne along by his own will and counsel, without 
any precepts or commandments from God ; to 
wit, in the exercise of his relations to the inferior 
creatures. Here he reigns, and is lord, as having 
been left in the hand of his own counsel. Not 
that God so leaves him, even here, as not to co 
operate with him in all things ; but that he leaves 
him a free use of the creatures, according to his 
own will, not restricting him by laws or injunc 
tions. Just as if you should say, by way of com 
parison, The Gospel has left us in the hand of 
our own counsel, to rule over the creatures, and 
use them as we please ; but Moses and the Pope 
have not left us in this counsel, but have re 
strained us by laws, and have rather subjected us 
to their wills. But in the other kingdom, man 
is not left in the hand of his own counsel, but is 
borne along, and led by the will and counsel of 
God. So that, as in his own kingdom, he is borne 
along by his own will, without the precepts of 
another ; so, in the kingdom of God, he is borne 
along by the precepts of another, without his own 
will. And this is what the Preacher affirms, 
" Re added precepts and commands ; If thou 
wilt, &c. &c." m 

111 I object to this distinction, as I have already done to the 
same in substance (Part ii. Sect. xxi.); nor can I believe it to 


If these things then be quite clear, we have SEC.XIV. 

proved that this passage from Ecclesiasticus ~ 

makes against Freewill, not for it ; as subjecting Ecciesias- 
man to the precepts and will of God, and with- least does 
drawing him from his own will. But if they be not decide 
not quite clear, I have at least made out, that ^ui. " 
this passage cannot be brought to support Free 
will, as being capable of quite a different interpre 
tation from theirs : such, for instance, as I have 
just mentioned ; which is so far from being ab 
surd, that it is most sound, and is consonant to 
the whole tenour of Scripture : whereas theirs is 
repugnant to that testimony, and is fetched from 
this single passage, in contradiction to the whole 
volume besides. We stand firm, and without fear, 
therefore, in our good sense of the words, which 

have been in the mind of the Apocryphal writer. Man had 
not Freewill given to him, in the exercise of one set of his rela 
tions (those to the creatures, for instance) , more than in another. 
Dominion and superiority did not confer Freewill. He was, in 
reality, made accountable for his use of the creatures ; they were 
not given to him to do what he pleased with. But, if it had 
been so, this would not have prevented his liability to have his 
will moved by a power without him. Insubjection and unac- 
countahleness are of a perfectly different nature from Freewill. 
A despot may be ruled within, as well as a slave. But, taking 
the writer to mean that he was left to do his own will this 
does not necessarily imply more than that he was left a free 
agent : and this he was left, with respect to all his relations, 
higher as well as inferior : and so are we. The difference be 
tween Adam s state before his fall, and ours who have been be 
gotten out of him since after having fallen in and with him 
consisteth not in his having been any way independent of 
God which we are not or having had a will that was inac 
cessible to divine control which ice have not but only in 
his ignorance of, and freedom from evil. He knew only 
good, and the devil had as yet no part in him. But, even in 
that state, he did only, and only could do, what God willed that 
he should do ; and, though without excuse in choosing evil 
(as having faculties and capacities, and being placed in cir 
cumstances, by and in which he ought at once to have rejected 
the temptation), did so choose, through the operation (not 
compulsory indeed, but efficacious) and according to the will, of 
Him who doeth all things : whose glory as well as preroga 
tive it is, to govern a world of free agents. 



TART in. negatives Freewill, until they shall have con- 

firmed their affirmative, harsh, and forced one. 

/ When the Preacher therefore says, " If thou 
shalt be willing to keep the commandments, and 
to maintain acceptable faith, they shall preserve 
thee;" I do not see how Freewill is proved by 
these words. The verb is in the conjunctive 
inood ( If thou wilt ); which asserts nothing indi- 
catively. Take an example or two. If the 
devil be God, he is worthy to be worshipped/ 
( If an ass fly, he has wings/ If the will be free, 
grace is nothing/ The Preacher should have 
spoken thus, if he had meant to assert the freedom 
of the will : Man can keep the commandments of 
God; 7 or, Man has power to keep the command 

But here Diatribe \vill cavil, that the Preacher, 
in saying " If thou wilt keep," intimates that there 
is a will in man to keep, and not to keep ; for 
what meaning is there, in saying to a man who 
has no will, f lf thou wilt/ Would it not be 
ridiculous to say to a man that is blind, If 
thou wilt see, thou shalt find a treasure ? or to a 
deaf man, ( If thou wilt hear, I will tell thee a 
pretty story? This would be only laughing at 
their misery. 

I answer; these are the arguments of human 
reason, who is wont to pour out a flood of such 
wise sayings : so that I have not now to dispute 
with the Preacher, but with human reason, about 
an inference." That lady interprets the Scriptures 
of God by her own consequences and syllogisms ; 
drawing them whither she will. I shall undertake 
my office very willingly, and with full confidence 
of success, because I know that she chatters no 
thing but what is foolish and absurd ; the most of 

n De sequehf] What follows, or is supposed to follow, 
from an assertion proved or admitted, but is not the immediate 
point in debate. ( Consequence/ deduction/ * inference. 1 


meant by 
< If thou 
wilt, &c. 


all, when she sets about shewing her wisdom on SEC. xv. 
sacred subjects. 

Now if, in the first place, I should ask how it is 
proved to be intimated, or to follow, that man has 
in him a will that is free, as often as it is said If 
thou wilt/ if thou shalt do/ if thou shalt hear/ 
she will say, because the nature of words, and 
the custom of speech amongst men, seem to require 
so. She measures the things and words of God, 
then, by the things and usage of men. What can 
be more perverse than this ; when the one sort of 
things is earthly, and the other heavenly? Thus 
she betrays her foolish self; how she thinks 
nothing, but what is human, of God. 

But what if I should prove, that the nature of 
words and custom of speech, even amongst men, 
is not always such as to make those persons 
objects of ridicule, who have no power to comply 
with the demand, as often as it is said to them, 
< If thou wilt/ if thou wilt do/ ( if thou wilt 
hear ? How often do parents mock their chil 
dren, by bidding them come to them, or do this or 
that, for the mere purpose of making it appear 
how utterly incapable they are of doing so, and 
of forcing them to call upon the parent for his 
helping hand ! How often does the faithful phy 
sician command his proud patient to do or leave 
undone things which are either impossible, or 
noxious, that he may drive him to that knowledge 
of his disease, or of his weakness, through making 
trial of himself, to which he could not lead him 
by any other means ! What is more frequent, 
or more common, than words of insult and pro 
vocation, if we would shew, either to friends or to 
enemies, what they can do, and what they cannot 
do? I mention these things, only by way of ma 
nifesting to human reason, how foolish she is in 

O 9 

attaching her inferences to the Scriptures; and 
how blind she is, not to see that these inferences 
are not always realized, even in human words 


PART in. and actions : yet, if she but see them fulfilled now 
and then, presently she rushes forwards with pre 
cipitation, and pronounces that they take place 
generally, in all human and divine forms of speech. 
Thus she contrives to make an universal of a par 
ticular, as the manner of her wisdom is. 
SEC. xvi. Now, if God deal with us as a father with his 

childen, to shew us our impotency, of which we 

Us( ; / are ignorant ; or as a faithful physician, to make 

such forms 1 J . 

of address, our disease known to us ; or it he insult us, as his 
enemies, who proudly resist his counsel, and by 
proposing laws to us (which is the most con 
vincing way of doing it), say, Do, hear, keep; 
or, if thou shalt hear, ifthou shalt be willing, if 
thou shalt do; will it be a just inference from 
hence, So then we can will freely, else God is 
mocking us ? Is not this rather the inference, 
So then God is making trial of us, whether we 
be friends or foes; that, if we be his friends, he 
may lead us to the knowledge of our impotency, 
by the law; or, if we be proud enemies, then 
indeed he may truly and deservedly insult and 
deride us. This is the reason why God gives 
;laws ; as Paul teaches. 1 For human nature is so 
"blind as not to know its own strength, or rather 
its own disease ; and is, besides, so proud as to 
think that it knows and can do all things. Now, 
God has not any more effectual remedy for this 

It is not Luther s business to state whence this difference 
of reception arises ; which is only through the free favour of 
God,, making some to be his friends, by his Spirit working in 
due season, whilst he leaves others in their native enmity. 
Luther would not hesitate to assign this cause ; but he has 
here only to do with the fact, that the Lord tries and evinces 
these different characters of men, by such calls to obedience. 

P " Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh 
be justified in his sight ; for by the law is the knowledge 
of sin." (Rom. iii. 20.) " Moreover, the law entered that the 
offence might abound." (Rom. v. 20.) " Wherefore then 
serveth the law r It was added because of transgressions." 
(Gal. iii. 19.) " Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to 
bring us unto Christ." (Ibid. 24.) 


pride and ignorance, than the propounding of his sc. xvir. 

law; of which I shall say more in its proper 

place. Let it suffice to have taken but a sip of 
the cup here, that I might confute this inference 
of foolish, carnal wisdom, f If thou wilt therefore 
the will is free/ Diatribe dreams that niau is 
sound and whole; just such as he is in the sight 
of his fellow men, in mere human affairs. Hence 
it is, that she cavils and says, Man is mocked by 
such words as if thou wilt,* e if thou wilt do/ 
if thou wilt hear/ except his will be free/ But 
Scripture declares man to be corrupt and captive ; 
and not only so, but a proud despiser of God, and 
one ignorant of his corruption and captivity. So 
she plucks him by the sleeve, and endeavours to 
awaken him by such words as these, that he may 
own, even by sure experience, how incapable he 
is of any of these things. 

But I will become the assailant myself in this Diatribe 
conflict; and will ask, < If thou dost indeed think, ! Ilshlcere 

HIT V i 11 ft* m her m- 

Madani Reason, that these mterences stand good (it 
thou wilt therefore thou canst will freely), why dost 
thou not follow them ? Thou sayest, in that appro v- 
able opinion of thine, that Freewill cannot will any 
thing good. By what sort of inference, then, will it 
at the same time flow, as you say it does, from this 
passage, If thou shalt be willing to keep/ that man 
can will freely, and cannot will freely ? Do sweet 
water and bitter flow from the same fountain ? 
Are you not, even yourself, the greater mocker 
of man here; when you say that he is able to keep 
what he cannot even will, or wish ? It follows 
therefore, that neither do you on your part think 
it a good inference, If thou wilt therefore thou 
canst will freely/ though you maintain it so vehe 
mently: or else, you do not, from your heart, 
affirm that opinion to be approvable, which main 
tains that man cannot will good/ Reason is so 
entrapped in the inferences and words of her own 
wisdom, as not to know what she says, or what 


PART in. s } ie j g talking about. Unless it be (as is indeed 
most worthy of her), that Freewill can only be 
defended by such arguments as mutually devour 
and make an end of each other : just as the Midi- 
anites destroyed themselves, by a mutual slaugh 
ter, whilst making war against Gideon and the 
people of God. 

Proves But let in e expostulate, still more at large, with 

>o much, this w ise Diatribe. The Preacher does not say, 
If thou shalt have a desire or endeavour to keep, 
which is, nevertheless, not to be ascribed to thine 
own powers; as you collect from his words; but 
If thou wilt keep the commandments, they shall 
preserve thee. Now, if we w r ould draw infer 
ences, such as you in your wisdom are wont to do, 
we shall infer, ( therefore man can keep the com 
mandments : and thus, we shall leave not only a 
little bit of a desire, or a sort of endeavourling, in 
man; but shall ascribe to him the whole fulness 
and abundance of power to keep the command 
ments. Else, the Preacher would be mocking the 
misery of man, by commanding him to keep, when 
he knew him to be unable to keep. Nor would it 
be enough, that he should have desire and endea 
vour : not even thus would the Preacher escape 
the suspicion of using mockery; he must inti 
mate that he has in him a power of keeping. 

Confirms J3 u t let us suppose this desire and endeavour 
f Freewill to be something. What shall w r e say 
to those (the Pelagians, I mean) who, from this 
passage, were used to deny grace altogether, and 
to ascribe every thing to Freewill ? Without 
doubt, the Pelagians have gained the victory, if 
/Diatribe s consequence be allowed. For the 
words of the Preacher import keeping, and not 
merely desiring or endeavouring. Now, if you 
shall deny to the Pelagians the inference of keep 
ing ; they will, in their turn, much more properly 
deny to you the inference of endeavouring: and, 
if you take away complete Freewill from them, 


they will take from you that little particle of it sc. xvn. 

which you say remains ; not allowing you to 

claim for a particle, what you have denied to the 
whole substance. So that, whatever you urge 
against the Pelagians, who ascribe a whole to 
Freewill from this passage, will come much more 
forcibly from us, in contradiction to that little bit 
of a desire which constitutes your Freewill/ 1 The 
Pelagians too will so far agree with us as to ad 
mit, that, if their opinion cannot be proved from 
this passage, much less can any other be proved 
from it : since, if the cause is to be pleaded by 
inferences, the Preacher makes the most strongly 
of all for the Pelagians ; forasmuch as he speaks 
expressly of entire keeping. i If thou w ilt keep 
the commandments/ Nay, he speaks of faith also : 
If thou wilt keep acceptable faith/ So that, by 
the same inference, we ought to have it in em 
power to keep faith also : howbeit, this faith is 
the alone and rare gift of God ; as Paul says/ 

In short, since so many opinions are enumerated 
in support of Freewill, and there is not one of 
them but what seizes upon this passage of Eccle- 
siasticus for itself, yet those opinions are different 
and contrary ; it must follow, that they deem the 
Preacher contradictory and opposite, each to the 
other severally, in the self-same words. They 

i Tutiim libero arbitrlo tribuentibus."] The Pelagians spake 
more wisely than many who oppose them. They maintained 
the integrity of Freewill ; an absolute power of willing good. 
Freewill is Freewill ; and, if there be any thing of it iu man, 
there is the whole of it. 

r Luther refers, no doubt, to Ephes. ii. 8. " For by grace 
are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is 
the gift of God." His interpretation, if I understand the text 
aright, is incorrect : it is. not faith that is spoken of as the gift 
of God, but his whole salvation. The truth of his affirma 
tion, however, though not fairly deducible from this text, 
is unquestionable ; and may be shewn, as well from particular 
testimonies, as from the general tenour of Scripture. Matt. 
xvi. 17. John vi. 44, G5. Ephes. i. It). Coloss. ii. 12. (to 
which many others might be added) are decisive. 


PART HI. can, therefore, prove nothing from him. Still, if 
- that inference be admitted, he makes for the Pela 
gians only, against all the rest : and so makes 
against Diatribe ; who cuts her own throat here. 8 

sc xvin l* u t I renew my first assertion ; viz. that this 
_ passage from Ecclesiasticus patronises none ab- 
Conciude solutely of those who maintain Freewill; but 
s?asticus lc " pP ses them all. For that inference, if thou 
proves no- wilt therefore thou canst/ is inadmissible; and 
thing for ^ e | rue understanding of such passages as these 
\vhether is, that, by this word and the like, man is warned 
what is of his impoteiicy ; which, as being ignorant and 
derltoodof P rou( ^? ^ ^ were not for these divine warnings, 
Adam, or he would neither own nor feel. 

eneraii ^^ ^ iere ^ s P ea ^^ n t f the first man only, but 
of any man, and every man; though it be of little 
consequence, whether you understand it of the 
first man, or of any other whatsoever. For, al 
though the first man was not impotent through the 
presence of grace; still God shews him abun 
dantly by this precept, how impotent he would be 
in the absence of grace. Now if that man, hav 
ing the Spirit/ was not able to will good ; that is, 

s Suo ipsius glacUo jugulatur. ] By quoting a passage for 
herself, which directly contradicts her. 

1 Cum adesset Spiritus.~\ Luther assumes that Adam, in his 
creation state, had the Spirit ; of which there is no proof, and 
the contrary seems evidently to have been, the fact. Made per 
fect after his kind, it was no part of his creation dues or gifts 
to have the Spirit. He was formed to glorify God, as his 
creature : which implies a substance distinct from, and exist 
ing in a state of severance from his Creator ; like a piece of 
mechanism put out of the hand of its artificer. He was left 
to himself, therefore, having his own high moral powers and 
acquirements, but no extrinsic aid ; to make trial and to shew, 
what man in his entireness is, and what he would become 
through temptation, if not inhabited by his Creator. This trial 
and manifestation would furnish an inference with respect to 
other creatures ; even as the same inference had already been 
furnished by the angelic nature. But this trial could not have 
been made, and this exhibition therefore could not have been 
effected, if he had possessed the Spirit ; or, in other words, if he 
had been united to God. So united, he could not have been 
overcome. That union, therefore (as Luther, and others with 


obedience ; while as his will was yet new, and sc.xviii. 

good was newly proposed to him/ because the 

Spirit did not add it; what could we, who have 
not the Spirit, do towards good, which we have 
lost? It was shewn therefore, in that first man, 
by a terrible example, for the bruising under of 
our pride, what our Freewill can do when left to 
itself; yea, when urged and increased continually, 
yet more and more, by the Spirit of God. The 
first man could not attain to a more enlarged 
measure of the Spirit, of which he possessed the 
firstfruits, but fell from the possession of those 
firstfruits. How should we, in our fallen state, 
have power to recover those firstfruits, which 
have been taken from us ? Especially, since Satan 
now reigns in us with full power ; who laid the 
first man prostrate by a mere temptation, when 
he had not yet got to reign in him. It were impos 
sible to maintain a stronger debate against Free 
will, than by discussing this text of Ecclesiasticus, 

; in connection with the fall of Adam : but I have not 
room for such a descant here, and perhaps the 

; matter will present itself elsewhere. Meanwhile, 
let it suffice to have shewn, that the Preacher says 
just nothing in support of Freewill here (which its 
advocates, however, account their principal testi 
mony) ; and that this and similar passages, If 

him, would say), was dissolved- the Spirit which he had 
possessed was withdrawn during his temptation. Then, was 
any longer the same substance, or person, which had re 
ceived the command ? On this representation, the command 
was given him, having the Spirit ; and he was tried, not having 
he Spirit. So demonstrable is it, that Adam had not the Holy 
^fhost ; whose in-dwelling doth not appertain to the perfection 
of man s nature. But the argument from Adam s state to ours 
s quite strong enough, without this unwarranted assumption of 
Luther s. He that was just come out of the hands of his 
Creator, made in his image, and pronounced by him to be 
very good, could not stand against a single and solitary temp- 
ation : what should we do therefore ? 

u As opposed to that < stale and rejected thing which good 
s to us. 


PART in. thou wilt/ if thou wilt hear/ if thou wilt do/ 

declare not what man can do, but what he ought 

to do. v 

SEC.XIX. Another passage is cited by our Diatribe from 

the fourth chapter of Genesis, where the Lord 

Gen. iv. 7. says to Cain, " The desire of sin shall be subject 

L to thee, and thou shalt rule over it." < It is shewn 
here, says Diatribe, that the motions of the mind 
towards evil may be overcome, and do not induce 
a necessity of sinning/ 

This saying, that the motions of the mind to 
wards evil may be overcome/ is ambiguous; but 
the general sentiment, the consequence, and the 
facts compel us to this understanding of it, x that, 
it is the property of Freewill to overcome its own 
motions towards evil, and that those motions do 
not induce a necessity of sinning/ Why is it 
again omitted here, ( which is not ascribed to Free 
will ? y What need is there of the Spirit, what need 
of Christ, what need of God, if Freewill can over 
come the motions of the mind towards evil ? What 
has again become of that approvable opinion, 
which says that Freewill cannot even will good? 
Here, however, victory over evil is ascribed to 

v I cannot help regretting that Luther, after the example of 
his opponent, has given so much space to this Apocryphal tes 
timony from Ecclesiasticus. I could have been glad, if he had 
not only stood upon his right, which he hints at in the opening 
of his discussion, declining" to answer ; but had used the 
occasion to protest against the honour put upon this book, 
and the rest of its brothers and sisters, by binding them up in 
our Bibles and reading them in our churches. The collateral 
matter of the argumentation, however, is highly valuable ; 
and Luther could afford to make his adversary a present of an 
argument. Here, indeed, he may almost be said to have taken a 
culvcrin to kill flies withal. For, is it not Adam, clearly, of whom 
the Preacher speaks ; whose will is not the matter in debate ? 
and what, as we have seen, is said even of that will, which 
might not be said of ours ? It was left free to choose ; and if 
it should choose good, good would result from that good. 

x Vi sentential, consequential e.t rerum hue cogitiir. 

y Referring to the satis probabilis opinio ; sed non relin- 
quat, quod suis viribus ascribat. See above, Sect. vii. 


this substance, which neither wills nor wishes SEC.XIX. 
good. Our Diatribe s carelessness is beyond all 
measure here. Hear the truth of the matter in 
few words. I have said before, man has it shewn 
to him, by such expressions as these, not what he 
can do, but what he ought to do. Cain is told, 
therefore, that he ought to rule over sin, and to 
keep its lustings in subjection to himself. But 
this he neither did, nor could do, seeing, he was 
now pressed to the earth by the foreign* yoke of 
Satan. It is notorious, that the Hebrews fre 
quently use the future indicative for the impera 
tive : as in the twentieth chapter of Exodus ; f Thou 
shalt not have any other Gods, Thou shalt not 
kill/ Thou shalt not commit adultery / and num 
berless such like instances. On the contrary, if 
the words be taken indicatively, according to 
their literal meaning/ they would be so many 
promises of God, who cannot lie ; and so, nobody 
would commit sin, and there would be no need 
therefore of these precepts. In fact, our trans 
lator would have rendered the words better in this 
place, if he had said, * Let its desire be subject to 
thee, and do thou rule over it/ Just as it ought 
also to have been said to the woman, Be subject 
to thy husband, and let him rule over thee/ 
That it was not said indicatively to Cain, appears 
from this : it would in that case have been a divine 
jpromise ; but it was not a divine promise, for 
the very reverse happened, and the very reverse 
|was done by Cain. b 

Alieno impcrio. ] A dominion out of himself; so that he 
is no longer his own master. 

Ut sonant. ] The sound, as opposed to the sense, or real 

b I admit Luther s principle, but demur to the application of 
t, both here and in the parallel to which he refers, Gen. iii. 16. 
| . he original passage is one of great difficulty. I incline to the 
iterpretation which our authorized version gives to it ; and 
ifer the words which are immediately under remark, as that 
ppears to do, not to sin, but to Abel. " If thou doest well, shalt 





Deut. xxx. 
19. con 

PART in. Your third passage is from Moses, " I have set 
before thy face the way of life and of death ; 
choose that which is good/ &c. &c. f What 
could be said more plainly/ says Diatribe ? He 
leaves freedom of choice to man/ 

I answer, what can be plainer than that you are 
blind here? Prithee, where does he leave free 
dom of choice? In saying, choose? So then, 
as soon as Moses says f choose/ it comes to pass 
that they do choose ! Again, therefore, the Spirit 
is not necessary : and since you so often repeat 
and hammer in c the same things, let me also be 

them not be accepted ? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at 
the door. And unto thee shall be bis desire, and thou shalt rule 
over him." Well, and not well, have relation to the then 
known will of God. Was Cain ignorant, with what sort of 
offering God was to be approached ? Whatever might be said 
of later times, Cain must have heard all about Eden, the ser 
pent and the woman, the serpent s seed and the woman s 
seed ; and must have seen the coats of skins. Cain despised 
""the way;" he would none of Christ.- Then, God s words 
are adapted to quiet, and to instruct him. We know that a 
man can no more come by Christ, except it be given him from 
above, than he can come by the law. But this was not the 
thing to be shewn him ; he was to be reminded of the alone 
way of access, that he might make the fullest developement of 
himself, if he should continue to neglect and despise it : and, 
since jealous and angry fears were now arising in his mind with 
respect to his brother ; chiefly, lest he should lose the earthly 
superiority attached to his primogeniture ; he is pacified with 
an assurance (connected, doubtless, with the fore-mentioned 
condition), that tin s dominion should remain in his hands ; an 
assurance conveyed in words very nearly resembling those 
by which Eve was warned of her subjection to Adam. The 
Septuagint gives another turn to the former part of the verse, 
but clearly refers the latter as I do ; and so in Gen. iii. 16. 
According to this view, the words of this text have nothing to 
do with Freewill, though it seems the Hebrew llabbins, as 
well as Luther and Erasmus, thought they had. (See Pole s 
Synops. in loc.) If they must be referred to sin, not Abel ; 
Luther s interpretation is correct, and his answer unanswer 
able- If the words be taken indicativcly , they are a promise 
of God, which was broken as soon as made. 

c Inculces.~] A figurative expression from treading in with 
the feet ; hence applied to those efforts by which, like the 
pavier ramming down his stones, we aim to drive or beat our 


allowed to say the same thing many times over. If SEC. xx. 

there be freeness of choice d in the soul, why has 

your approvable opinion said that the free will 
cannot will good ? Can it choose without will 
ing, or against its will? But let us hear your 

It would be ridiculous to say to a man standing 
in a street where two ways meet, f you see two 
ways, enter which you please ; when only one is 

This is just what I said before, about the argu 
ments of carnal reason : she thinks that man is 
mocked by an impossible precept ; whereas we 
say, he is admonished and excited by it to see 
his own impotency. Truly then, we are in this 
sort of street; but only one way is open to us : or 
rather, no way is open. e But it is shewn us by 
the law, how impossible it is for us to choose the 
one that leading to good, I mean except God 
give his Holy Spirit: how broad and easy the 
other is, if God allow us to walk in it. Without 
mockery then, and with all necessary gravity, it 
would be said to a man standing in the street, 
( enter which of the two you please ; if, either 
he should have a mind to appear strong in his 
own eyes, being infirm ; or should maintain that 
neither of these ways is shut against him. 

The words of the law then, are spoken not to 
affirm the power of the will, but to enlighten blind 
reason ; that she may see what a nothing her light 

meaning into a person s head. Erasrrms not only repeats, but 
pursues long desultory arguments, heaping one upon another, 
to prove his point. 

d Libertns eligcndi."] Choice there must be, or there is no 
will ; but that choice may be made under a wrong bias. This . 
is properly the question of Freewill ; viz. : whether the will be 
\uuler such a bias, or not. 

e Imo nulla patet.~] Referring to what he has said before, 
about God s doing every thing ; and our doing all we do, by 
necessity. So, even the way of evil is only broad and easy, 
si Deus permittat. 



PART in. is, and what a nothing the power of the will is. 
" By the law is the knowledge of sin," says 
Paul ; he does not say the abolition/ or the 
* avoidance/ of it. The principle and power 
of the law has for its essence the affording of 
knowledge, and that only of sin ; not the display 
ing of any power, or the conferring of any. 

For this 8 knowledge, neither is power, nor 
confers power, but instructs ; and shews that there 
is no power in that quarter, and how great is the 
infirmity in that quarter. For what else can the 
knowledge of sin be, but the knowledge of our 
infirmity and of our wickedness. Nor does he 
say, ( by the law comes the knowledge of virtue, 
or good : but all that the law does, according to 
Paul, is to cause sin to be known. 

This is that passage from which I drew my 
answer, ( that by the words of the law man is ad 
monished and instructed what he ought to do, 
not what he can do ; that is, to know his sin, not 
to believe that he has some power. So that, as 
often as you cast the words of the law in my teeth, 
I will answer you, my Erasmus, with this saying 
of Paul; "By the law is the knowledge of sin," 
not power in the will. Take now some of your 
larger Concordances, and heap together all the 
imperative verbs into one chaos (so they be not 
words of promise, but words of exaction and law), 
and I shall presently shew you, that by these is 
always intimated not what men do, or can do, but 
what they ought to do. Your grammar-masters, 
and boys in the streets, know this ; that by verbs 

f Tota ratio et virtus legisJ] Rat. a word of very extensive and 
various signification, expresses the nature, order, object, 
structure, and relations of any substance. Principle seems 
best to express it here : as comprehending both design and 
constitution. Rat. et virt. The law is both framed for this 
purpose, and effects it. 

e I insert this j because the two ibis, which follow, make 
it plain, that it is not knowledge in general, but this knowledge 
in particular, of which he speaks. 


of the imperative mood nothing else is expressed, SEC.XXI. 

but what ought to be done : what is done, or 

may be done, must be declared by indicative 

How comes it then, that you theologians, as if 
you had fallen into a state of second childhood, 
no sooner get hold of a single imperative verb, 
than you are foolish enough to infer an indicative; 
as if an act were no sooner commanded, than it 
becomes straightway, even of necessity, a thing 
done, or at least practicable. For how many things 
happen between the cup and the lip, 1 to pre 
vent what you have ordered, and what was more 
over quite practicable, from taking place : such a 
distance is there between imperative and indica 
tive verbs, in common and most easy trans 
actions. But you when the things enjoined, 
instead of being near to us as the lip is to the 
cup, are more distant than heaven from earth 
and, moreover, impracticable so suddenly make 
indicatives for us out of imperatives, that you will 
have the things to have been kept, done, chosen, 
and fulfilled, or about to be so, by our own 
power ; as soon as ever the word of command has 
been given, do, keep, choose. k 

In the fourth place, you adduce many like verbs Passages 
of choosing, refusing, keeping; as, c if thou shalt from ^ eut - 
keep/ ( if thou shalt turn aside/ if thou shalt considered, 
choose, &cc. &c. from the third 1 and from the 
thirtieth chapter of Deuteronomy. All these 

h Inter os et offcim. ] The mouth and the cake ; but I have 
preferred the more common proverb. 

1 Et vos,~] It would be read with more spirit in the form of 
a question : And do you so suddenly make, &c. ? 

k Luther is abundant in reply to this passage from Deu 
teronomy. 1. It proves too much. 2. Not ridiculous, if the 
way be supposed shut. 3. The law gives knowledge of sin. 
4. Imperative verbs are not indicatives. 

1 The reference to Deut. iii. appears to be incorrect : these 
expressions are all found in the xxxth ; and the like to them 
.n xxvii. xxviii. xxix. But chap. iii. is a mere narrative. 


PART in. expressions, you say, would be unseasonable, if 
man s will were not free to good/ 

I answer, you also are very unseasonable, my 
Diatribe, in collecting Freewill from these verbs ! 
For you professed to prove only desire and 
endeavour in your Freewill, and adduce no pas 
sage which proves such endeavour, but a string 
of passages, which, if your consequence were 
valid, would assign ( a whole to Freewill." 1 Let 
us, then, distinguish here again between the 
words adduced from Scripture, and the conse 
quence which Diatribe has appended to them. 
The words adduced are imperative, and only 
express what ought to be done. For Moses 
does not say, you have strength or power to 
choose, but choose, keep, do. He delivers 
commands to do, but does not describe man s 
power of doing. But the consequence added by 
this sciolous Diatribe infers, therefore man can 
do these things ; else they would be enjoined in 
vain. To which the answer is, c Madam Dia 
tribe, you make a bad inference, and you do not 
prove your consequence : it is because you are 
blind and lazy, that you think this consequence 
follows, and has been proved. These injunc 
tions, however, are not delivered unseasonably, 
or in vain ; but are so many lessons by which 
vain and proud man may learn his own diseased 
state of impotency, if he try to do what is com 
manded. So again, your simile is to no purpose, 
where you say ; 

6 Else it would be just as if you should say 
to a man, who is so tied and bound, that he 
can only stretch out his arm to the left, See ! 
you have a cup of most excellent wine at your 
right hand, and a cup of poison at your left : 

m Totum, opposed to particula ejus reliqua ; that small re 
maining particle of Freewill which Erasmus professed to sup 
port and prove : his texts would make it an integer, not a 
fraction. See abovej Sect. iv. 


stretch out your hand to whichsoever side you SE. xxn. 

I have a notion that you are mightily tickled 
with these similes. But you do not perceive all 
the while, that, if your similes stand good, they 
prove much more than you have undertaken to 
prove ; nay, that they prove what you deny, and 
would have to be disapproved ; namely, that Free 
will can do every thing. For, throughout your 
whole treatise, forgetting that you have said 
( Freewill can do nothing without grace/ you 
prove that * Freewill can do every thing without 
grace/ Yes, this is what you make out, at last, by 
your consequences and similes, that, either Free 
will, left to herself, can do the things which are 
said and enjoined, or they are idly, ridiculously, 
and unseasonably enjoined. Howbeit, these are 
but the old songs of the Pelagians ; which even 
the Sophists have exploded, and you have yourself 
condemned. Meanwhile, you show by this forget- 
fulness and bad memory of yours, how entirely 
you are both ignorant of the cause, and indif 
ferent to it. For what is more disgraceful to a 
rhetorician, than to be continually discussing and 
proving things foreign to the point at issue ; nay, 
to be continually haranguing against both his 
cause and himself ? " 

I do therefore affirm again, that the words of His Sc "P- 
Scripture adduced by you are imperative words, 
and neither prove any thing, nor determine any his a 
thing, on the subject of human power, but pre- scripture, 
scribe certain things to be done, and to be left too much! 
undone: whilst your consequences or additions, 

" Contra causam et scipsnm.~\ Not only in opposition to the 
cause lie was advocating, but even to his own admissions and 
assertions. But what a string of charges is here ! Sciolist! a 
mere smattercr in learning and knowledge. Pelagian . which 
every would-be orthodox disclaims negligent, desultory, un- 
discerningf heartless ! quam nihil vel intelligas vel afficiaris 
causse ! 


PART in. and your similes, prove this, if they prove any 

thing, that Freewill can do every thing without 

grace. This proposition, however, is not one which 
you have undertaken to prove, but have even de 
nied : so that proofs of this kind are nothing else 
but the strongest disproofs. For let me try now, 
whether it be possible to rouse Diatribe from her 
lethargy. Suppose I should argue thus: when Moses 
says, ( choose life, and keep the commandment; ex 
cept a man can choose life and keep the command 
ment, it is ridiculous in Moses to enjoin this upon 
man: should I by this argument have proved, that 
Freewill can do nothing good ; or that it has endea 
vour, but not of its own power? No, I should 
have proved, by a pretty bold sort of comparison, 11 
that, either man can choose life and keep the com 
mandment, as he is ordered to do ; or Moses is a 
ridiculous teacher. But who would dare to call 
Moses a ridiculous teacher? It follows therefore, 
that man can do the things commanded him. 
This is the way, in which Diatribe is continually 
arguing against her own thesis ; by which she 
engaged not to maintain any such position as this, 
but to show a certain power of endeavouring in 
Freewill : of .which, however, she makes little 
mention in the whole series of her arguments, so 
far is she from proving it. Nay, she rather proves 
the contrary : so as to be herself rather, the ridi 
culous speaker and arguer every where. q 

Sine suis viribus. ] He plays upon the approvable opinion ; 
which leaves endeavour,, but does not leave it to be ascribed to 
Freewill s own power. 

P Satis fort i cont(:ntione.~] Cont. is sometimes used in a rheto 
rical sense to express one of the parts of an oration ; dispu- 
tatio sive disceptatio, opposed to quocstio or controversia ; 
what might properly be called the argumentation: but is 
here used in another rhetorical sense, to express contrast, 
comparison, or antithesis -, Moses s folly, set in array against 
( man s power. 

i She imputed this to Luther : she would make either him 
or Moses absurd ; the real absurdity lay in adducing argu 
ments., which either proved nothing, or proved the opposite. 


With respect to its being ridiculous,, according sc. xxn. 
to the simile you have introduced, that a man tied 
by the right arm should be bidden to stretch out 
his hand to the right, when he can only stretch it tied. 
out to the left; would it be ridiculous, I ask if 
a man, who was tied even by both hands, should 
proudly maintain, or ignorantly presume, that he 
could do what he pleased on both sides of him 
to bid such a man stretch out his hand to which 
soever side he likes ; not with the design of laugh 
ing at his captive state, but that the false pre 
sumption of his own liberty and power may be 
evinced, or that his ignorance of his captivity and 
misery may be made notorious to himself. Dia 
tribe is always dressing up for us a man of her own 
invention, who either can do as he is bidden, or 
at least knows that he cannot. But such a man 
is no where to be found : and if there were such 
a man, then it would indeed be true, that, either 
impossibilities are enjoined ridiculously, or the 
Spirit of Christ is given in vain/ 

But the Scripture sets before us a man, who is Uses of 
not only bound, wretched, captive, sick, dead, tela " 
but who adds this plague of blindness (through 
the agency of Satan his prince) to his other ble - 
plagues, and so thinks himself at liberty, happy, 
unshackled, able, in health, alive. For Satan 
knows, that, if man were acquainted with his 
own misery, he should not be able to retain a 
single individual of the race in his kingdom; be 
cause God could not choose but at once pity and 
help him, when now he had come to recognise his 
misery, and cry out for relief: seeing, he is a 
God so greatly extolled throughout the whole 
Scripture, as being near to the contrite in heart, 
that, in the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah (vv. 1 3.), 
Christ declares himself to have been even sent 

r If he can do what is bidden, there is no need of the Spirit ; 
if he knows he cannot, there is no longer any use for pre 
scribing it. 


PART in. into the world by Him, for the purpose of preach- 

ing the Gospel to the poor, and healing the 

broken-hearted. So that, it is Satan s business to 
keep men from the recognition of their own 
misery; and to keep them in the presumption of 
their own ability to do all tfyat is commanded. 
But the legislator Moses s business is the very 
opposite of this : HE is to lay open man s misery 
to him by the law, that, having hereby broken his 
heart, and confounded him with the knowledge of 
himself, he may prepare him for grace, 8 and send 
him to Christ, and so he may be saved for ever. 
What the law does, therefore, is not ridiculous, 
but exceedingly serious and necessary. 1 

Those who are now brought to understand 
these matters, understand at the same time, with 
out any difficulty, that Diatribe proves absolutely 
nothing, by her whole series of arguments ; whilst 
she does nothing but get together a parcel of 
imperative verbs from the Scriptures, of which 
she knows not either the meaning or the use. 
Having done so, she next adds her own conse 
quences and carnal similes, and thus mixes up 
such a potent cake," that she asserts and proves 
more than she had advanced, and argues against 
her very self. It would not be necessary, there 
fore, to pursue my rapid course v through her 

s Ad gratiam.] Not, what is often understood by grace, e the 
gift of the Spirit ; but, what grace truly is in its essence, the 
free favour of God. 

* Ridicula. .seria. . neccssariaJ] Ridiculous may have respect 
either to the laugher, or the laughed at ; what we do in sport, 
or suffer as objects of sport. The law neither mocks, nor makes 
a fool of herself, though her ordinances be impossible to man ; 
neither mocks, by calling merely to expose ; nor subjects her 
self to derision, by speaking Avhere she has nothing to gain. 

u Offam seems to be some allusion to Cerberus. ^En. vi. 420. 

v Percurrere.] Luther applies the same term to his review of 
Erasmus s preface, implying short and lively animadversion 
rather than grave and elaborate research. So, just afterwards, 
recensere ; * enumeration, or ( recital, rather than inves 


several proofs any further; since they are all dis- sc.xxm. 

missed by dismissing one, as all resting upon one 

principle. Still, I shall go on to recount some 
of them, that I may drown her in the very flood 
in which she was meaning to drown me. x 

In Isaiah i. (ver. 19.) we read, "If ye shall Isaiah U9. 
have been willing, and shall have heard, ye shall *j x 4 ) 1 
eat the good of the land:" where it would have m. i. jj. 
been more consistent, as Diatribe thinks, to have and some 
said, If I be willing ; ( If I be unwilling ; on 
the supposition of the will not being free. 

The answer to this suggestion is sufficiently 
manifest, from what has been said above. But no distinct 
what congruity would there be, in its being said tlon be ~ 
here, ( If / will, ye shall eat of the good of the an a Cos- 
land ? Does Diatribe, of her excessive wisdom, r el > & c - 
imagine that the good of the land could be eaten 
against the will of God ; or that it is a rare and 
new thing for us to receive good, only if HE 
will ? 

So in Isaiah xxx. y " If ye seek, seek ; turn ye, 
and come." To what purpose is it that we ex 
hort those who have no power at all over them 
selves? Is it not just as if we should say to a 
man bound with fetters, move yourself that way ; 
says Diatribe ? 

Say rather, to what purpose is it that you 
quote passages, which, of themselves, prove 
nothing, but by adding a consequence ; that is, 
by corrupting their meaning; ascribe every thing 
to Freewill : whereas only a sort of endeavour, 
and that not ascribable to Freewill, was to be 

x Obruatur copld, seems to be some allusion to the dra 
gon, Rev. xii. 15. " And the serpent cast out of his mouth 
water, as a flood, after the woman, that he might cause her to 
be carried away of the Hood." 

y The reference seems to be to verse 21, where our trans 
lation has it, " And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, 
saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right 
hand, and when ye turn to the left." 


PART in. < I would say the same of that testimony in 

Isaiah xlv. " Assemble yourselves, and come ; 

turn to me, and ye shall be saved : " and of that in 
Isaiah Hi. " Arise, arise, shake thyself from the 
dust, loose the chains from off thy neck." Of that 
also in Jeremiah xv. " If thou wilt turn, I will 
turn thee ; and if thou wilt separate the precious 
from the vile, thou shalt be as iny mouth." But 
Zechariah makes still more evident mention of the 
endeavour of Freewill, and of the grace which is 
prepared for the endeavourer. He says, " Turn 
ye to me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn 
to you, saith the Lord." z 

In these passages, our Diatribe discovers no 
difference at all between law words and gospel 
words. So blind and ignorant is she forsooth, 
that she does not see what is Law and what is 
Gospel. Out of the whole of Isaiah, she brings 
not a single law word, except that first one, If 
ye shall have been willing. All the other pas 
sages are made up of gospel words; by which the 
contrite and afflicted are called to take comfort 
from offers of grace. a But Diatribe makes law 

z Isa. xlv. 20. lii. 1, 2. Jerem.xv. 19. The reference made 
to Zechariah seems properly to belong to Malachi iii. 7. See 
above, Part ii. Sect. xiii. note . 

a Verbo gratia; oblate. } The expression, offers of grace, is 
exceptionable, as implying freeness of choice ; in direct con 
trariety to Luther s position and arguments. The truth is, 
that, whilst he abhorred free choice, he liked free offers. I could 
have been glad if he had expressed his meaning more defi 
nitely; which is little else than the promises of God received 
in such wise as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scrip 
ture; that is, received as promises of free favour made to 
persons of a certain character ; and not to individuals, as such. 
What but these are the very and legitimate stay of God s eter 
nally foreknown, elect, predestinated, and now quickened 
child, in the day of his tearing and smiting ? Is he to hear a 
voice, or see a vision, or receive some providential token, per 
sonal to himself; before he presumes to call upon the name 
of the Lord ? Are not these, " Ho, every one that thirsteth ;" 
" To this man will I look ;" " Come unto me, all ye that tra 
vail and are heavy-laden;" "The same Lord over all is rich 


words of them. And pray what good will he do sc.xxni. 
in theology, or in the Scriptures, who has not yet 
got so far as to know what the Law is, and what 
the Gospel is ; or, if he does know, disdains to 
observe the difference ? Such an one must con 
found every thing ; heaven and hell, life and 
death; and will take no pains to know any 
thing at all about Christ. I shall admonish my 
Diatribe more copiously upon this subject hereafter. 
Look now at those words of Jeremiah and 
Zechariah : If thou wilt turn, I will turn thee / 
and, ( Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you. 
Does it follow, Turn ye/ therefore ye can turn ? 
Does it follow, ( Love the Lord thy God with all 
;hine heart/ therefore thou shalt be able to love 
lim with all thine heart? What is the conclu 
sion, then, from arguments of this kind, but that 
Freewill needs not the grace of God, for she can 
do every thing by her own power ? How much 
more properly are the words taken, just as they 
stand ! b If thou shalt have been turned, I also 
will turn thee/ that is, if thou shalt leave off 
sinning, I also will leave off punishing ; and if, 
when thou art converted, thou shalt lead a good 
life, I also will do thee good, and will turn thy 
captivity and thy evils. But it does not follow 

unto all that call upon Him" his warrant for drawing near, 
ind his first words of consolation ? But these, at last, are not 
offers of grace ; by which God throws himself, as it were, 

the knees and feet of his creatures subjecting himself to a 
-efusal ; nay, with full assurance that he must receive one, 
except he superadd a special and distinct impulse of his own 
;o secure acceptance but testimonies of his own mouth, and 
land, and ordinances, borne to those souls which he, in his 
>wn good time, has made ready to welcome them ; that he 
vill bind up, and heal, and own, these poor destitutes, amidst 
he gathered remnant of his heritage. 

b Verba, ut posita sunt.~] Without additions, such as Eras- 
nus s. 

c I do not know that any reasonable objection can be made 
o Luther s paraphrase of Jeremiah xv. 19, and Malachi (he 
alls him Zechariah) iii. 7. 13ut the (juotation from Jeremiah 


PART in. from these words, that a man can turn to God by 
his own power ; nor do the words affirm this : 
they simply say, If thou art converted ; admo 
nishing man what he ought to be. Now, when 
he shall have known and seen this, he would seek 
the power, which he hath not, from the source 
whence he might have it, d if Diatribe s Leviathan 
(her appendage and consequence, I mean) did not 
come in the way, saying, It would in vain be 
said, " Turn ye," except a man could turn by his 
own power/ What sort of a saying this is, and 
what it proves, has been declared abundantly. 

It is the effect of stupor or lethargy to suppose 
that Freewill is established by those words, ( Turn 
ye/ ( If thou shalt turn, and the like ; and not to 
perceive, that, upon the same principle, it would 
also be established by this saying, " Thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;" since 
the demand in the one case, is equivalent to the 
command* in the other. Nor is the love of God, 
and of all his commandments, less required than our 
own conversion ; since the love of God is our true 
conversion. And yet no man argues Freewill 
from that commandment of love, whilst all argue 

seems perfectly out of place : it is a personal matter between 
the Lord and his Prophet, a converted man : what has this to 
do, then, with the question of Freewill ? 

d Qucerat unde possit.~] I have been inclined to connect 
these words with the preceding sentence ; by which he id 
admonished what he ought to be ; and having understood and 
discovered this, is admonished to seek the power which he 
hath not whence he might get it ; if Diatribe should not inter 
vene, &c. The punctuation, however, forbids this connection, 
and it does not appear to be Luther s meaning. He imputes it 
to Diatribe s false suggestion, if man, warned that he ought to 
turn to God, does not find out his own impotency, and seek his 
conversion from Qod. But there is much more that goes to 
this seeking, than Luther seems to include in it: under the clear 
est light, men will still resist conviction ; and the heart to seek, 
is as much a gift, as conversion itself. 

e More literally, since the meaning of the commander and 
the demander is equal on both sides. 


it from those words, ( If tliou shalt be willing-/ sc.xxiv. 

f If tliou sbalt hear/ Turn/ and the like. If 

then it folio weth not from that saying, Love the 
Lord thy God with all thy heart/ that Freewill 
is any thing, or has any power, assuredly neither 
doth it from those, f If thou wilt/ ( If tliou near 
est/ Turn ye/ and the like : which either de 
mand less, or demand less vehemently, than that 
Love God/ Love the Lord/ f 

Whatever reply, therefore, is made to that 
saying, Love God/ forbidding to conclude Free 
will from it; the same shall be made to all other 
expressions of command or demand, in forbid- 
dance of the same conclusion: namely, that by the 
command to love is shewn e the matter of the 
law/ 8 what we ought to do; but not the power of 
the human will, what we can do ; or rather, what 
we cannot do. The same is shewn by all other 
expressions of demand. It is evident, that even 
the schoolmen, with the exception of the Scotists 
and the Moderns, 1 assert, that man cannot love 
God with his whole heart. From whence it fol 
lows, that neither can he fulfil any of the other 
commandments ; since they all hang on this, as 
Christ testifies. Thus, it remains as a just con 
clusion, even from the testimony of the scholastic 
(doctors, that the words of the law do not prove 
,a power in the free will, but show what we ought 
to do, and what we cannot do. 

But our Diatribe, with still greater absurdity, Mai. m. 7. 
not only infers an indicative sense from that say- morc P ar - 

* ticularly 


f DillgK Deum. Ama Dominum.~\ Dil. and am. are here used 
; as of like import : sometimes they are put in contrast, and 
ithat variously ; diligo being sometimes the stronger, and some 
times the weaker term. In distinguishing them, amo may 
be understood to denote the love of appetite; and diligo 
the love of reason. 

5 Forma legiy.~\ More literally, the shape, mould, or image 
:>f the law ; what is comprehended in it. 
h Scotistis et Modcrnis. ] See above, Part iii. Sect. ii. notes 


PART in. ing of Zechariah, Turn ye unto me; but main- 

tains, that it even proves a power of endeavouring 

in Freewill, and grace prepared for the endea- 

And here, at last, she remembers her endea 
vour ; and, by a new art of grammar, e to turn/ 
with her, signifies the same as f to endeavour : 
so that the sense is, Turn unto me / that is, 
f endeavour to turn, and I will turn to you / 
that is, endeavour to turn to you. At last, 
then, she attributes endeavour even to God ; in 
tending perhaps to prepare grace for His endea- 
vourings also. For, if ( to turn signifies to 
endeavour in one place ; why not in all ? 

Again, in that passage of Jeremiah, f lf thou 
shalt separate the precious from the vile/ she 
maintains that not only 6 endeavour/ but even 
freedom of choice/ is proved : what she had 
before taught us to have been lost, and to have 
been turned into a necessity of serving sin. You 
see then, that Diatribe truly possesses a free will 
in her handlings of Scripture ; by which she com 
pels words, of one and the same form, to prove 
endeavour in one place, and free choice in ano 
ther; just as she pleases. 

But bidding adieu to these vanities, the word 
c turn has two uses in Scripture ; a legal, and an 
evangelical one. In its legal use, it is an exacter 
and commander ; requiring not endeavour only, 
but change of the whole life; as Jeremiah fre 
quently uses it, saying, Turn ye every one from 
his evil way / e Turn to the Lord : where it evi 
dently involves an exacting of all the command 
ments. When used evangelically, it is a word of 
divine promise and consolation; by which nothing 
is demanded from us, but the grace of God is 
offered to us. Such is that of Psalm cxxvi. 
When the Lord shall turn again the captivity 
ofZion/ and that of Psalm cxvi. Turn again 
then unto thy rest, O my soul ! And so Zecharias 


contrives to dispatch both sorts of preaching (law as sc.xxiv. 
well as grace) in a very short compendium. It is all 
law, and the sum of the law, when he says, Return 
unto me : it is grace, when he says, f I will 
return unto you/ As far, therefore, as Freewill is 
proved by that saying, Love the Lord/ or by 
any other saying of any particular law; just so far, 
and no farther, is it proved by this summary law 
word Turn/ It is the part of a wise reader 
of Scripture then, to observe what are law 
words, and what are grace words ; that he may 
not jumble them all together, like the filthy 
Sophists, and like this yawning Diatribe. 1 

1 Luther s distinction between law words and gospel words, 
as applied by him in these two sections, severally and com- 
paredly, is arbitrary, indefinite, and unavailing. Arbitrary ; in 
asmuch as he pretends not to have any recognised authority for 
it, and applies it inconsistently ; sometimes calling words of 
exhortation or command ( gospel words / and sometimes con 
fining that term to words of promise, as opposed to them. 
Turn ye unto me is a law word ; I will turn to you is a 
gospel word. Indefinite ; because he gives no fixed rule by 
which to determine what is one, and what is the other j but, 
according to his own account, leaves it to the discerning 
reader. Unavailing ; because a gospel precept is not less im 
practicable than a law one to the free will. In my view, he 
confounds matters ; for return/ or repent/ is surely not a 
law precept, but a gospel one : the law knows nothing of 
repentance. The truth is, he has given his answer to all these 
testimonies already. They are requirements ; call them law 
requirements, if you will, or gospel requirements ; they are 
something for man to do ; and, as he very properly argues, 
they are meant to shew him what he ought to do, but imply 
not any power either towards Law, or towards Gospel. The law 
is, properly, the law of the Ten Commandments/ under 
which, speaking less precisely, may be comprehended all those 
precepts which fall in with the nature and design of that 
transcript of the creation law of man / but nothing which 
regards his relations as a fallen, or as a restored creature. 
Luther speaks confusedly, as other writers do, on this subject ; 
not discerning the origin, design, and nature of that institu 
tion. The law spake not till Moses ; spake only to the Jews, 
or then visible church of God ; was a preparation for, and 
a fore-preached Gospel. A law word therefore, rightly under 
stood, is also a gospel word : a word which prepareth, by com 
pelling a sense of need ; and which whilst it " shuts up unto 




PART in. p or see now? 1 1OW s h e treats that famous passage 

c xxv * n Ezekiel xviii. " As I live, saith the Lord, I 

would not the death of a sinner, but rather 

Ezek.xviii. that he be converted and live." First, It is so 

23. con- often repeated, says she, in the course of this 

dered> chapter, " shall turn away," " hath done," 

" hath wrought ;" in respect both of good and 

evil. Where then are those who deny that man 

does any thing? 

What an excellent consequence is here ! She 
was going to prove desire and endeavour in Free 
will ; but she proves the whole act, every thing- 
done to the uttermost by Freewill. Where now 
are they who maintain the necessity of grace and 
of the Holy Spirit? For this is her ingenious 
way of arguing : e Ezekiel says, If the wicked 
man shall turn away from his wickedness and do 
justice and judgment, he shall live. Why then the 
wicked man presently does so, and can do so. 
Ezekiel intimates what ought to be done; Diatribe 
considers this as what is done, and has been done ; 
again introducing a new sort of grammar, by 
which she may teach us that it is the same thing 
to owe, as to have the same thing to be enacted, 
as to be performed the same thing to demand, 
as to pay. 

After this, she lays hold on that sweetest of gos 
pel words, I would not the death of a sinner/ 
and gives this turn to it; k Does the holy Lord 
deplore that death of his people, which he works 
in them himself? If he would not the death of a 
sinner, verily, it is to be imputed to our own wil 
if we perish. But what can you impute to a being, 

the faith which should afterwards be revealed," and which now 
has been revealed impliedly promises and exhibits Him who 
was to be, and who now has been and is, its fulfiller ami 

k Sic versat>~\ Vers. implies a forced application of it ; as if yov 
should turn a body, that is already in motion, out of its natural 
Bourse j or give motion to one that is at rest. 


who has no power to do any thing, either good or sc.xxvi. 

Pelagius also sang just the same sort of song; 
when he ascribed not desire and endeavour only, 
but complete power of fulfilling and doing every 
thing to Freewill. For these consequences prove 
this power, as I have before said, if they prove any 
thing; and therefore fight as stoutly, and even 
more so, against Diatribe herself (who denies 
this power in Freewill, and sets up endeavour 
only), as against us who deny Freewill altogether. 
But without dwelling upon her ignorance, I will 
state the matter as it really is. 

It is a gospel word, and a word of sweetest The true 
consolation to poor miserable sinners, when Eze- ineanin s 
kiel says, (e I would not the death of a sinner, xviiL 23. 
but rather that he should be converted and live, stated. 
by all means." As is that of the thirtieth Psalm 
also, " For his wrath is but for a moment, and 
his will towards us life rather than death." And 
that of the thirty-sixth Psalm, "How sweet is thy 
mercy, Lord I" Also, " Because I am merciful." 
And that saying of Christ, in Matthew xi. " Come 
unto me, all ye that labour, and I will refresh 
you." Also that of Exodus, " I do mercy to 
them that love me, unto many thousands." Nay, 
what is almost more than half of the Scripture 
but mere promises of grace, by which mercy, life, 
peace, and salvation are offered to men ? And 
what other import have words of promise than 
this, I would not the death of a sinner ?" Is it 
not the same thing to say, I am merciful/ as to 
say, i I am not angry/ I do not wish to punish/ 
* I do not wish you to die/ * I wish to pardon 
you/ ( I wish to spare you ? Now, if these 
divine promises did not stand in the word, to 
raise up those whose consciences have been 
wounded with the sense of sin, and terrified with 

1 See above, Sect xxiii. note a . 


PART in. the fear of death and judgment, what place would 

there be for pardon, or for hope ? What sinner 

would not despair ? But, as Freewill is not 
proved by other words of pity, or promise, or 
consolation, so neither is it proved by this, "I 
would not the death of a sinner." 

But our Diatribe, again confounding the dis 
tinction between law words and words of promise, 
makes this place of Ezekiel a law word, and ex 
pounds it thus : ( I would not the death of a 
sinner ; that is, I would not that he should sin 
mortally, or become a sinner guilty of death ; 
but rather that he should turn away from his sin, 
if he hath committed any, and so should live/ For, 
if she did not expound it so, it would not serve 
her purpose at all : but such an exposition en 
tirely subverts and withdraws this most persua 
sive word of Ezekiel, I would not the death of 
a sinner/ If we are determined so to read and 
understand the Scriptures, by the exercise of our 
own blindness, what wonder if they be obscure 
and ambiguous? For he does not say, I would 
not the sin of a man/ but I would not the death 
of a sinner; clearly intimating, that he speaks of 
the punishment of sin, which the sinner is expe 
riencing for his sin ; that is, the fear of death. Yes; 
He raises up and consoles the sinner, when now 
laid on this bed of affliction and despair, that he 
may not quench the smoking flax, or break the 
bruised reed, but may excite hope of pardon and 
salvation : that so he may rather be converted 
(converted, I mean, to salvation from the punish 
ment of death) and live ; that is, be happy, and 
rejoice in a quiet conscience." 1 

For this also must be observed, that, as the 

m His state as a sinner is a state of eternal death, the just 
punishment of his sin ; and of this state he has the beginning 
in his now realizing apprehensions of it. When converted, 
he is delivered from this state of punishment ; and when he 
lives, he is brought into the joy of this changed state. 


voice of the law is sounded forth only over those sc.xxvn 

who neither feel nor acknowledge their sin (as 

Paul speaks in Rom. iii. " By the law is the 
knowledge of sin"); so the word of grace comes 
but to those who, feeling their sin, are afflicted 
and tempted to despair. Thus it is, that, in all law 
words, you see sin charged by shewing us what 
we ought to do : just as, in all words of promise, 
on the other hand, you see the misery, which 
sinners (that is, those who are to be raised up from 
their dejection by them) labour under, intimated : 
as here, the word I would not the death of a 
sinner expressly names death and the sinner ; 
the very evil which is felt, as well as the very 
man who feels it. But in this word Love God 
with all thy heart there is pointed out the good we 
owe, not the evil we feel; that we may be brought 
to acknowledge how incapable we are of doing 
that good. 

So then, nothing could have been more unaptly Ezek.xviii. 

adduced in support of Freewill, than this passage 2 . 3< n !? a " 
,. T i i i i f i A , >i i tives Free- 

irom Jbzekiel ; which even tights against it most w iii, in- 

lustily. For herein is implied, how Freewill is stead of 
affected, and what it is able to do, when sin has pl 
been discovered, and when now the matter is to 
turn itself to God : it is herein implied, I say, 
that it could do nothing but fall into a still worse 
state, adding desperation and impenitence to its 
other sins, unless God should presently come to 
its succour, and should recall and raise it up," by 
his word of promise. For God s eagerness in 
promising grace to restore and raise up the 
sinner, is a very mighty and trustworthy argu 
ment, that Freewill of herself cannot but fall from 
bad to worse ; and, as the Scripture says, " to 

1 Rcvocaret et erigeret. ] Revoc. implies departure ; the 
soul has gone further and further off from God, through de 
spair of mercy : erig. implies fallen, thrown down/ pros 
trated j like Saul before the witch of Endor. 


PART in. the nethermost hell." Do you think that God is 
so fight-minded as to pour out words of promise 
thus fluently, when they are not necessary to our 
salvation., for the mere pleasure of talking? You 
see then from this fact, that not only do all law 
words stand opposed to Freewill, but even all 
words of promise do utterly confute it. In other 
words, the whole Scripture is at war with it. So 
that this saying ( I would not the death of a 
sinner has no other object, as you perceive, than 
that of preaching and offering divine mercy 
through the world ; p which none but those who 
have been afflicted and harassed to death receive 
with joy and gratitude. These do so, because the 
law has in them already fulfilled its office, by 
teaching the knowledge of sin : whilst those who 
have not yet experienced this office of the law, 
and who neither acknowledge their sin, nor feel 
their death, despise the mercy promised in that 
word. 1 

The Psalms abound with expressions of this sort : see es 
pecially the 38th and 88th ; from the latter of which these 
words appear to be a quotation. " For my life draweth nigh 
unto the grave (v. 3) ; or, according to the older version, " to 
hell." (v. 2.) 

i" See above, note a . The account I have there given of 
Luther s meaning is abundantly confirmed here. Mercy is to 
be preached, and what//e calls offered, generally to all men; 
but only those in whom the law has done its office (and whom 
did Luther understand by these, but God s elect ?) will receive 
it. His offer, therefore, is a nugatory offer to all but the 
elect ; and these must receive ; not physically must, but 

1 Luther s answer to Erasmus s argument from Ezek. xviii. 
23. is threefold. 1. It proves too much. 2. It proves no more 
than other gospel words ; that is, words of promise and mercy. 
3. Such words prove against Freewill, by implying, that without 
them man could only despair. 

See above, note , where I have objected to this distinction 
between law words and gospel words, and to the statements 
generally made respecting the Law, as though it were opposed 
to the Gospel. Luther is chargeable here with arguing per 
sequelam, for which he so much blames Erasmus ; God s 


But, as to why some are touched by the law s.xxvm. 
and others not/ so that the former take in, and the 
latter despise, the grace offered; this is another 

word of promise proA es that man could only despair without 
it. The true answer to Erasmus s argument from this text 
(which, according to Luther s distinction, is a gospel word but 
then there is quite as much supernatural help necessary to 
make a gospel word availing, as to fulfil a law one ) is, that it 
proves nothing on either side. Inferences may be drawn both 
ways ; against as well as for, and for as well as against : but 
the affirmation respects only the mind of God. He declares 
that he wills not death. What does this assert concerning the 
natural powers of man ? For a more full view of the doctrine 
set forth in this and like texts, and of their place in the great 
scheme of God-manifestation, see the next Section and its notes. 
r Luther has given what he considers the true answer to 
Erasmus s objection drawn from this text ; it is a gospel 
word, for the consolation of the law-stricken ; and declares 
that we have no right to ask any more questions. I do not 
approve the exact point to which he brings the debate, nor can 
I agree with him that it ought to end just here. Luther 
speaks, and many others like him, as if only the law (meaning 
thereby the law of the Ten Commandments) could do the 
office of abasing and prostrating man ; which, in effect, 
assumes that the law was given to man from the beginning, 
and that Moses s giving of it was but a republication : else how 
were those saints emptied of self and prostrated, who lived 
before Moses such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, and the rest ? But 
what proof is there of the law having been given from the 
beginning ? Express proof is afforded in Rom. v. that the law 
was not till Moses. " For until the law sin was in the world : 
but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless 
death reigned from Adam to Moses, &c." (vv. 13, 14.) The 
truth is, it is not the law, but the Holy Ghost (using the law, 
it is true, ?is his instrument more generally, where it has been 
given, but by no means universally so using it) who needeth 
not the law, but has proofs enough to supply of man s sin ; of his 
" earthly, sensual, devilish " mind ; without having recourse 
to that summary of creation duty that humbles, empties, and 
makes ready for the manifold Scripture declarations of God s 
entire readiness to receive the penitent freely. These are 
indeed made such of God, and can only be made such by him j 
though it is not his plan usually to tell us how we have come, 
and alone can come, to this mind, when he testifies his love and 
good-will towards it. So that the question arising from this 
admitted state of things, some receive, others do not receive, 
this and like gospel words, is not properly why some are law- 
stricken ; or, more correctly, why some are prostrated, and 
self-emptied, and self-despairing ; but why some have the 



bewail the 
death he 

PART in. question, and* one not treated by Ezekiel in this 

place. He speaks of God s preached and offered 

mercy, not of that secret and awful will of his, by 
the counsel of which he ordains whom and what 
sort of persons he wills to be made capable of 
receiving, and to become actual participants of 
his preached and offered mercy. This will of 
God is not the object of our researches, but of 
our reverent adorati on ; as being by far the most 
venerable secret of the divine majesty, which he 
keeps locked up in his own bosom, and which is 
much more religiously 3 prohibited to us, than the 
Corycian caves to the countless multitude. 

When now Diatribe cavillingly asks, ( whether 
the holy Lord bewails that death of his people 
which he produces in them himself? a suggestion 
too absurd to be entertained : 

I answer, as I have already done, we must 
argue in one wise concerning God, or the will of 

Holy Ghost, and others have not^ which is, in other words, 
why is there an election of grace : I cannot agree with 
Luther, that we have no right to ask this question ; or, in 
other words, that the Scripture does not afford an answer to it; 
for here is the secret of God. 

If it be asked why such a man is elect, and such a man is 
not elect, it is most true, we have no answer ; this is God s 
secret ; AVC have nothing to do with it. But if the question be, 
why are there elect and non-elect, we have to do with it, and 
can give an answer : it is to the manifestation of God ; which is 
the end of all his counsels, and of all his operations. For 
some observations on Luther s accepted aphorism ( Quae supra 
nos, nihil ad nos, and upon his apparent setting out of two 
Gods/ with one of which we have nothing to do ; and for the 
correct answer to Erasmus s insidious question, Does God 
deplore &c. see notes \ v , x , which follow. 

s Religiosius. ] By religious considerations. The multitude 
might look into the entrance ; priests might enter into the 
penetralia ; but the multitude might not go in to explore: if 
they did, they were filled with terrors ; appalling sights con 
founded them : just so, and with still more fearful apprehen 
sions of a religious nature, we are prohibited, says Luther, 
from attempting to penetrate the secret of God. But the ques 
tion is, where this secret begins ? Luther says, in the fact, 
that some are touched by the law., and others not. 


God, insofar as that will is proclaimed to us, s.xxvnr. 
revealed, offered to our acceptance, made the 
ground of worship; and in another wise, concern 
ing God, insofar as he is unproclaimed, unre- 
vealed, unoffered, and unworshipped. So far as 
God hides himself, and chooses to be unknown by 
us, we have nothing to do with him. Here is the 
true application of that saying, What is above 
us, is nothing to us/ And lest any one should 
suppose this to be my distinction, let him know 
that I follow Paul, who writes to the Thessa- 
lonians concerning Antichrist (2 Thess. ii. 4.) 
" That he would exalt himself above all that is 
proclaimed of God, and that is worshipped ;" 

1 Super omnem Devon pracdicatum et cuUum.~\ Literally, above 
all the proclaimed and worshipped God. I question the sound 
ness of Luther s interpretation of this text, and of the argu 
ment consequently, which he draws from it; although the 
distinction which he labours to establish is, with some modifi 
cation and amplification, the root of the answer to the objec 
tion. "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is 
called God, or that is an object of worship," is the more correct 
rendering- of the original text. The meaning seems to be, that 
this Antichrist would both oppose himself to, and exalt him 
self above, every object of worship, both true and false ; every 
being that is called God, and every substance which is wor 
shipped. It has therefore nothing to do with distinct views 
and considerations respecting the true God ; but only marks 
the extravagant claims which this Antichrist would make, and 
which would be allowed by his votaries, as compared with the 
several objects of worship received in the world. The word of 
God, however, doth clearly recognise a distinction between 
God, regarded as the legislator, governor, and judge of his 
moral creation or in any other relations which he may have 
been pleased to assume towards the whole, or certain parts, of 
that creation and God regarded as he is in himself, and as 
separated from such relations : as also, between that will of 
His which he hath revealed for our obedience (what may 
therefore be called his legislative will), and that free, infinite, 
and eternal will of His, from which this legislative will has 
emanated, and by which, in perfect consistency with all his 
assumed relations, and with that of legislator amongst the 
rest, he regulates his own conduct (what may therefore be 
called, by way of distinction, his personal will) : in other 
words, between his commands and his mind. God, who made 
the worlds, the alone Being, subsisted in his trinity of co- 


PART HI. plainly intimating, that a man might be exalted 
above God, so far as he is proclaimed, and wor- 

equal persons, infinite, and all-blessed, before he made them. 
Is it presumptuous to say why he made them ? Has he not 
unequivocally told us ? His end is, as it must be, seated in 
himself.* He will shew himself WHAT HE is so far as infinite 
can be shewn to finite, to certain moral and intelligent crea 
tures, whom he will make capable of apprehending, adoring, 
and enjoying him, in their measure. Hence the whole counsel, 
process, series, and results of creation ; in which I include all 
that belongs to Creator and creature-ship. Hence the true dis 
tinction between the hidden and revealed God : which is 
properly no other than God the revealer and God the revealed; 
creation in this wide extent being only God s revealer 3 and 
having in reality revealed much of him, whilst there is much 
at last in God which is not, cannot be revealed. Thus, we see 
that this hidden God, or rather this absolute God (so called 
because not circumscribed by relations ; which relations, how 
ever, can only be such as he has seen fit to assume ; and which 
he has seen fit to assume, for the one great end of self-manifes 
tation), is the same God with the revealed and circumscribed 
God ; and that, so far from being an unknown God in this 
regard, he has revealed himself in his relative and circum 
scribed capacity, for the very purpose of making himself 
known (so far as the incomprehensible can be made known) 
in this absolute and uncircumscribed capacity. 

So, again, with respect to his secret and his revealed will ; or, 
as I have more correctly distinguished them, his personal and 
his legislative will ; whilst these are distinct, they are neither 
opposed to each other, nor unconnected with each other his 
legislative Avill subserves his personal will, and is his ordained 
and specially-devised instrument for accomplishing it : by 
which accomplishment, his great purpose, in submitting him 
self to his various creator relationships (to wit, self-manifest 
ation) is achieved. t 

Luther does not seem to have apprehended the union and 
concordance of these two distinct views, in which both God 
and his will are set forth to us, whilst he so strongly marks 
their distinctness ; and thus, his answer (not being the whole 
truth; that is, not being THE TRUTH; which consists in an har 
monious combination of many parts) has an air of evasion and 
sophistry (to which he seems not to have been insensible him 
self), and is, in reality, unsatisfying and repulsive. Is it true, 
that the proverb, What is above us, is nothing to us, has its 
rightful application here ? Is it true, that we have nothing to 

* See Vaughan s Calvinistic Clergy defended,, p. 64 73. 2d Ed. 

\ In the observations which follow, 1 do not confine myself to the words 
immediately under review, but comprehend the whole of Luther s expres 
sions and reasonings in this and the three succeeding paragraphs. 


shipped ; that is, above that word and worship s.xxvni. 
by which God is made known to us, and main- 

do with this God of majesty, as Luther calls him ; the absolute 
God ? What is the knowledge of God that last, highest, best 
gift of promise but the knowledge of this God ? the communica 
tion of which is, as we have seen, the very end of creation and 
of revelation. Again ; is it true, that the revealed God, or 
relative God, wills only life ? or, according to Luther s own 
way of stating it, that God has revealed himself in his word 
only as that God who offers himself to all men, and would draw 
all men unto himself? Why then docs he tell us, in that self 
same word, that in very deed for this cause he had raised Pharaoh 
up, for to shew in him His power; and that His name might be 
declared throughout all the earth ? That it was of the Lord to 
harden the hearts of the Canaanites, that they should come 
against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, 
and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy 
them, as the Lord commanded Moses ? That. Hophni and 
Phinehas hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because 
the Lord would slay them ? That he smells a sweet savour of 
Christ in them that perish ? That whom he will he hardeneth ? 
That there are those ordained of old to condemnation ? Those 
appointed to stumble at the stone? Those whom he has com 
manded to fill up the measure of their iniquities ? That he is, 
in short, a potter having power over the clay, and using that 
power ? Has he proclaimed all this concerning himself in his 
word ; does he, moreover, make that word his great instru 
ment of bringing these things to pass ; and is it true never 
theless, that his word stands in contrast, nay direct opposi 
tion, to himself, so that we are wisely counselled to attend to 
his word in contrast, and even in opposition, to God who gave 
it ? Had Luther discerned the simple end of creation and 
revelation, God manifesting himself as what he really is in 
his essence (in which essence, hatred of that which is con 
trary to himself is as much a part as lore of that which is like 
himself) ; and seen that by means of creation and revelation, 
God is actually effecting this end he would not have talked of 
salvation being the revealed God s alone work ; nor have said 
that we have to do with his word, but not with himself ; nor have 
warned us that we have nothing to do with His inscrutable will 
(including therein all that Luther includes therein) when that 
inscrutable will is made matter of instruction in his word, and 
is declared to be what he is continually fulfilling in us ; what 
the Lord Jesus thanks his Father for ; and what his people 
find to be their great source of light, and strength, and joy. 
How remarkable it is, that Luther should here silence his 
gainsayer with " Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest 
against God V when, with the interval of only a single verse, 
the Holy Ghost had furnished him with a clue to the whole 


PART in. tains intercourse with us. But., if God be re 
garded, not as he is an object of worship, and 
as he is proclaimed, but as he is in his own 
nature and majesty, nothing can be exalted above 
him, but every thing is under his powerful hand. 

God must be left to himself then, so far as he 
is regarded in the majesty of his own nature ; for 
in this regard we have nothing to do with him ; 
nor is it in this regard that he hath willed to be 
dealt with by us : but, so far as he is clothed with 
his word, and displayed to us thereby; that word, 
by which he has offered himself to our acceptance; 
that word, which is his glory and beauty, and 
with which the Psalmist celebrates him as clothed; 
so far, and so far only, we transact with him. In 
this regard, we affirm that the holy God does not 
bewail that death of his people, of which he is 
himself the worker in them; but bewails that 
death which he finds in his people, and is taking 
pains to remove it. For this is what the pro 
claimed God is about, even taking away sin and 
death, that we may be saved. For "he hath sent 
his word and healed them." 11 But the God 
which is hidden in the majesty of his own 

counsel of God, and with an answer to those very questions 
which he says it is not lawful to ask, or possible to get resolved. 
" What if God, willing- to shew his wrath, and to make his power 
known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath 
fitted to destruction : And that he might make known the riches 
of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared 
unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, 
but also of the Gentiles r" Luther both speaks and means 
incorrectly here ; but he says rather more than he means. It 
is not against the sober, hallowed use of the knowledge of this 
inscrutable will (for though there be that which is inscrutable 
in it, there is also that in it which may be known, for he has 
told it to us), but against those who denied, or confounded, or 
impugned, or reviled these distinctions, and would hear no 
thing of his sovereign majesty, and of his secret counsel, that 
he is aiming his dart here. 

u Psalm cvii. 20. Luther applies this healing to all men j* 
but the Psalmist declares it only of those who cry unto the 
Lord in their trouble and in particular dispensations of his 
hand. This is not all men. 


nature, neither bewails nor takes away death ; but s.xxvni. 
works life and death, and all things in all things/ 

v Yes and works life and death, and all things in all things, 
through the agency of that proclaimed, or relative God ; and 
in perfect consistency with yea, by means of that legisla 
tive * will, which regulates man s duty as his moral creature. 
It is as the proclaimed or relative God, not as the hidden or 
absolute God, that he both saves and destroys j and this, by 
means of his legislative enactments, not in contradiction to 
them. The power which he gives to his elect and saved, and 
which he withholds from the reprobate and damned, is distinct 
from these legislative enactments ; and, whilst it proceeds 
from the relative God, proceeds not from him in his legisla- 
torial relation, but in another, which is distinct from and not 
commensurate with it, although its subjects be also subject to 
that relation, and to its requirements. It is no part of the 
legislator s office to give power, or to withhold it. He may 
do either. He may work any thing, every thing, upon, 
around, above, beneath him, so he but leave the subject of 
his enactments a free agent : and this God does, and ever has 

Thus it was in creation strictly so called ; God, having assumed 
the relation of Creator to man, gave him a law (Gen. ii. 17.) 
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou 
shall not eat of it ; for in the day that thou eatest thereof 
thou shalt surelydie." It was no part of his relation, as Creator, 
either to withhold temptation from his creature, whom he had 
" made upright," " in his own image," " good," " very 
good " (but, as we have before noticed,f not having the Holy 
Ghost, and therefore not held as by a chain to God, but sub 
sisting in a state of severance from him) ; nor yet to sustain 
him by new powers (additional to those which he had received 
at his creation), in a crisis of temptation. The result was that 
he fell ; and that the whole human race (which had been 
created in him, and of which the several individuals had a dis 
tinct personal subsistence in him, and were parts of his sub 
stance, when, having first apostatized in heart, he did after 
wards put forth his hand, and did take, and did eat) shared in 
his ruin. It is by the instrumentality of this law then, that 
God both saves whom he personally wills to save, and destroys 
whom he personally wills to destroy : saving those to whom, 
by a super-creation relation which was given them in Christ 
Jesus before the world began, he vouchsafes his special grace; 
and, destroying those from whom, in perfect consistency with all 
creation dues and obligations, he withholds the same. 

* By legislative, I shall be understood to mean all which can be 
called enactment, as given by God, of whatever kind ; whether to one 
nation, or to the whole world ; whether Law or Gospel. See note above. 

t Sect, xviii. note . 


PART in. For, when acting in this character, he does not 

bound himself by his word, but has reserved to 

himself the most perfect freedom in the exercise of 
his dominion over all things. 

But Diatribe beguiles herself through her igno 
rance, making no distinction between the pro 
claimed God, and the hidden God ; that is, be 
tween the word of God, and God himself. God 
does many things which he has not shewn us in 

Thus it was in God s dealings with the nation of Israel, and 
with his visible church, as for a season co-extensive with 
that nation. When now he had formed the seed of Abraham 
into a nation, and had assumed the relation of king to that 
people, he gave them a law ; by which, instrumentally, he kept 
them for his own, so long as it was his personal will to keep 
them, and scattered them when it was the counsel of his per 
sonal will to scatter them.* By the same law instrumentally, He, 
in their ecclesiastical relation, saved whom he would save, 
through the bestowal of a grace which was not of their covenant; 
whilst he at the same time destroyed whom he would destroy, 
through the withholding of that grace, in perfect consistency 
with the provisions of the same. 

Thus it is also in the Gospel Church, and in the commanded 
preaching of the Gospel to all nations, and tongues, and 
people. God, in the relation of the offended sovereign of the 
human race, commandeth all men every where to repent; 
giving them what may be called the law of repentance and 
faith, and demanding of them a state of mind which is suited 
to their condition as fallen and guilty creatures. Repent ye, 
and believe the Gospel. f By this legislative will of his, 
instrumentally, he fulfils the counsels of his personal will ; 
saving whom he has predestinated to save, and destroying 
whom he has predestinated to destroy. 

* Israel, like Adam in Paradise, broke the. law nearly as soon as it was 
given him ; but, by so doing, he prepared the way for all God s future 
dealings with him. 

\- Implicitly, but not explicitly, this is the demand, and the alone demand, 
which God has made upon man, even the whole human race, since the Fall ; 
and shall continue to be so, till his mystery be finished by the Lord s second 
coming. The form of this demand has been varied, the knowledge of it has 
been varied; the law, eminently so called, has been interposed to the church, 
God has " winked at times of ignorance ;" but a Manasseh s humbledness of 
mind, with a peradventure of mercy the only demand which, in consis 
tency with the recognition of those primary transactions in the Garden, and 
with the realities of the case, could be made is in truth the only demand 
whit.i has been made upon the sons and daughters of fallen Adam, from the 
period of the ejection out of Paradise until now : a demand which has served 
to mark the only difference that can ever be found to subsist between the 
several apostate members of an apostate head; viz, continued apostasy in 
some, and restoration in others. 


his word. He also wills many things which he s.xxvnr. 
has not shewn us that he wills, in his word. For 
instance, he wills not the death of a sinner 
according- to his word, forsooth but he wills it 
according to that inscrutable will of his. Now 
our business is to look at his word, and to leave 
that inscrutable will of his to itself: for we must 
be directed in our path by that word, and not by 
that inscrutable will. Nay, who could direct 
himself by that inscrutable and inaccessible will? 
It is enough for us barely to know, that there is a 
certain inscrutable will in God. What that will 
wills, why it so wills, and how far it so wills, are 
matters which it is altogether unlawful for us to in 
quire into, to wish for knowledge about, to trouble 
ourselves with, or to approach even with our touch. 
In these matters, we have only to adore and to fear. 
So then, it is rightly said, ( If God wills 
not death, we must impute it to our own will 
that we perish/ Rightly, I say, if you speak 
of the proclaimed God. For he would have all 
men to be saved, coming, as he does, with his 
word of salvation to all men ; and the fault is in 
our own will, which does not admit him ; as he 
says, in Matt, xxiii. " How often would I have 
gathered thy children, and thou wouldest not ?" 
But why this majesty of His does not remove this 
fault of our will, or change it in all men (seeing 
that it is not in the power of man to do so); or 
why he imputes this fault of his will to man, when 
man cannot be without it; these are questions 
w r hich it is not lawful for us to ask ; and which, 
if you should ask them, you would never get 
answered. The best answer is that which Paul 
gives in Romans ix. " Who art thou that repliest 
against God ?" Let these remarks suffice for this 
passage of Ezekiel, and let us go on to the rest. x 

x Luther has in substance given the right answer to this 
cavil from Ezekiel, but has given it, as we have seen, in an 
exceptionable form 5 exceptionable, as it respects the distiuc- 


PART in. After this, Diatribe objects that the exhorta- 
- - tions with which the Scripture so much abounds, 
sc.xxix. together with all those manifold promises, threaten- 

Exhorta- ^ Qn ^y}^^ h e institutes, hidden God and revealed God ; 
ions, pio- an j exceptionable, in that he does not show the sameness of 
this God, which is thus distinguishingly regarded. It is to 
be remembered, that the words bear only by inference and 
consequence upon the question of Freewill (which is the ques 
tion in debate), whatever be the correct interpretation of them j 
neither does Erasmus represent them fairly. Erasmus speaks 
of walling and working : but where does Ezekiel say that God 
" wails ?" He says only, I would not. Erasmus argues, 
God deplores ; therefore, it is not his doing that they die ; 
therefore, it is their own doing therefore, there is Freewill. 
It is inference two deep ; each of which requires proof. What 
if their death be self-wrought ? Why may they not have pre 
viously forfeited their Freewill, and therefore die under bond- 
will ? We might hold ourselves excused, therefore, from 
entering at all into this cavil ; it is truly rdhil ad nos. 

But there are reasons why we should rather meet it in the 
face j and the answer has, by implication, been given to it 
already. Some would say, why not at once knock if down 
with " Secret things belong unto the Lord ?" (Deut. xxix. 29.) 
a convenient text for a perplexed disputant ! My answer is, that 
text does not apply here. The Prophet is not speaking of the 
principles of divine conduct, but of those providential events 
and arrangements by which God realizes and fulfils them. It 
was in the counsels of God to bring the nation of Israel to 
obedience at the last, through a long course of tergiversation 
and punishment : but they had at that time the word given to 
them (" the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy 
heart ; that is, the word of faith, which we preach." Com 
pare Rom. x. 5 10. with Deut. xxx. 11 14.), which they 
would at length obey. Now, they had nothing to do with 
these intermediate events which God would bring about ; it 
was theirs to use that commandment (or rather that Gospel 
which the commandment fore-preached) looking through the 
type to the reality which he commanded them that day. 
Besides, if we were at liberty to use this text here, we must 
learn from it, that we have nothing to do with election and 
reprobation at all : as some are fond enough of admonishing 
us. For it is not a question, who is individually of the one 
class, and Avho of the other, that is here to be answered ; but 
whether there really be such distinctions, and why there are 
such. (See above, note r .) Then meeting the question 
fairly, though not fairly attached to the question of Freewill, 
how does this assertion in Ezekiel comport with the God-willed 
death of a sinner ? 
Not to insist upon the peculiarities of the case to which this 


ings, expostulations, upbraidings, beseechings, SECT. 
blessings and cursings, and all those numerous xxix. 

solemn declaration of God is annexed (the house of Israel was mises, &c. 
brought into peculiar relations to God, and the case of an ^ Scrip- 
Israelite was therefore considerably different from that of | ure use " 
uncovemmted transgressors) j not to notice the ambiguity of 
Erasmus s expression his people (God works no death in 
his people properly so called, though he works death in many 
Avho have a name to be his people, and are not) without 

insisting that the original words V^P^ VbnH as well as the 

I : i v I v T if 

Oe\w, not (3ov\o[iat, of the Septuagint, express inclination 
rather than determination and so the sentiment conveyed may 
be no more than what our translators have assigned to them, 
have I any pleasure at all, for I have no pleasure ; implying 
only such a reluctance as is not inconsistent with a contrary 
decision though Luther, as well as Erasmus, makes it nolo ; 
waving all such objections, which do not shield the vitals of the 
truth, though they may serve to parry off a blow from its ex 
tremities (for clearly here is God at least declaring his dislike 
of that death which he nevertheless inflicts, and which we 
affirm that he wills) ; the true account of the matter, and that 
which comprehends all possible cases, has been furnished in 
the two preceding notes ; asserted in note l , and illustrated by 
examples in note u . 

The relative God, in his character of Israel s legislator and 
sovereign, declares in this chapter that he will deal henceforth 
both nationally and spiritually with that people, each man 
according to his own ways ; and, in effect, preaches the Gospel 
to each individual of them, saying, Repent, and live. At the 
twenty-third verse,* he signifies that he has no pleasure in the 
death of him that dieth : in the three last verses, he exhorts 
and remonstrates, and repeats his gracious assurances. But it 
does not belong to these and such like relations, to give grace 
and power ; and, without such grace and power, exhortations 
promises and threatenings are all, and alike, vain. But is 
God therefore to withhold them ? Man, without this super- 
added grace, ought to obey them ; ought, though he cannot ; 
cannot, through a self-wrought impotency. And are there no 
reasons, no satisfying reasons, why God should give them ? Are 
not these amongst his choicest instruments, whereby he effects 
the manifestation of himself ; manifestation of himself, through 
the manifestation of what is in man ; " that thou mightest be 
justified when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest." L 
His elect obey ; his non-elect harden themselves yet the more, 
under his outward calls. Thus, whether the case set forth in 
Ezekiel be considered as the peculiar case of the national Israel, or 

* Erasmus quotes the text unfairly, by joining the oath of v. 3 with T. 23 ; 
but it is no part of it. 




PART in. swarms of precepts, are without meaning ne- 

cessarily/ if no one has it in his power to keep 

what is commanded. 

Diatribe is always forgetting the question at 
issue, and proving something different from what 
she undertook to prove : nor does she perceive, 
how much more strongly every thing she says 
makes against herself than against us. For she 
proves from all these passages a liberty and power 
of keeping all the commandments, by force of 
the inference which she suggests from the words 
quoted; when all the while she meant only to 
prove ( such a Freewill as can will nothing good 
without grace, together with a sort of endeavour, 
which is not to be ascribed however to its own 
powers. I see no proof of such endeavour in any 
of the passages quoted ; I see only a demand of 
such actions as ought to be performed : what I 
have indeed said too often already, if it were not 
that such frequent repetition is necessary, because 
Diatribe so often blunders upon the same string/ 
putting off her reader with an useless profusion of 

sc. XXX. Nearly the last passage which she adduces from 
the Old Testament, is that of Moses in Deut. xxx. 
" This commandment, which I command thee this 


the general case of the visible church having the Gospel preached 
to it (that Gospel which is in one view a statute, enactment, 
or commandment ; whilst, in another view, it is the Jubilee 
trumpet, by which the Holy Ghost proclaims liberty to the 
Lord s captives) ; we see in it, at last, but a farther exem 
plification of what has been shewn already; the relative God 
revealing the absolute, and his legislative fulfilling his personal 
will. Luther meant nothing contrary to this statement, though 
his language might seem to imply it. 

y Frigere necessarib. ] Frig. A metaphor taken from vegetable 
or animal substances, which are nipped with cold. These ex 
hortations, &c. have no warmth, no life, no power, no mean 
ing in them, without Freewill. 

Ut citharoedus 
Ridetur, chorda qui semper oberrat eadem. 

Hor. Art. Poet. 355. 


day, is not above thee, nor far off from thee, nor sc. xxx. 

placed in heaven, that you mightest say, who of 

us is able to ascend up into heaven, to bring it 
down to us, that we may hear and fulfil it ? But the 
word is very near to thee, in thy mouth and in 
thy heart, that thoumayest do it." Diatribe main 
tains it to be declared in this place, that we not 
only have power to do what is enjoined, but that 
it is even downhill work to do so ; that is, easy 
or at least not difficult. 

Thanks to you for your immense learning ! If 
then Moses so clearly pronounces that there is 
not only a faculty in us, but even a facility of 
keeping all the commandments ; why submit to all 
this toil? Why have we not at once produced 
this passage, and asserted Freewill in a field that 
is without opponent. 3 What need have w^e any 
longer of Christ? what need of the Spirit? We 
have at length found a place which stops every 
mouth, and distinctly pronounces not only that 
the will is free, but that the observance of all the 
commandments is easy ! How foolish was Christ 
to purchase that unnecessary Spirit for us at the 
, price of his own out-poured blood, that it might 
ibe made easy to us to keep the commandments ; 
a facility, which it now seems that we possess by 
nature ! Nay, let Diatribe herself recant her own 
words, in which she said that Freewill can will 
nothing good without grace : and let her now say, 
that Freewill is of so great virtue as not only to 
will good, but even with great ease to keep the 
chiefest and all the commandments. O see what is 
the result of having a mind which feels no interest 
in the cause pleaded ! see how impossible it is, that 
this mind should not betray itself! Is there any 
onger need to confute Diatribe ? Who can con- 
ute her more thoroughly than she confutes her own 
;elf ? This, forsooth, is the animal which devours 

a Libero campo.~\ I understand it < liber ab hoste. seu anta- 
jonista : but I do not find any parallel. 



PART in. its own stomach . b How true is the proverb, f a 
liar ought to have a good memory ! 

I have spoken on this passage in my commentary 
upon Deuteronomy. I shall therefore treat it 
concisely here, shutting out Paul from our dis 
cussion, who handles this passage with great 
power, in Rom. x. You perceive that nothing 
at all is affirmed here, nor one single syllable 
uttered, about facility or difficulty, about the 
power or the impotency, of Freewill or of man, 
to keep or not to keep the commandment : except 
that those who entangle the Scriptures in the net 
of their own consequences and fancies, do thereby 
render them obscure and ambiguous to themselves, 

b Se ipsam comedit. ] What this animal is, and whether real 
or fabulous ; I must leave in some doubt. The lobster comes 
nearest to the description : of which it is said ; At the same 
time that they cast their shell, they change also their stomach 
and intestines. The animal, while it is moulting, is said to 
feed upon its former stomach, which wastes by degrees, and 
is at length replaced with a new one. Bingley s Animal 
Biography, vol. iii. p. 511. But the pelican seems the more 
probable allusion here ; whose method of taking its suste 
nance from its pouch, might well account for the figment 
of its eating itself, or preying on its own stomach. The 
scolopendra discharges its own bowels, in order to disgorge 
the hook ; and the scorpion, inclosed with burning coals, 
stings itself to death : but neither of these seems applicable 
here. The name bestia is said to he ascribed properly to wild 
and noxious animals, but not confined to these ; whilst bellua 
expresses size rather than fierceness. 

c See Luther s commentary on Deuteronomy, in loco : where 
he notices and chides this unjustifiable use, which the Sophists 
make of it. He gives another turn to the " secret things" of 
the preceding chapter ; considering them as secrets revealed to 
Israel, that he may obey. Also, he understands St. Paul s appli 
cation of this text as an accommodation of the original words, 
not a quotation according to their true sense, as spoken byt 
Moses. But his comment will be found strongly to confirm the! 
view which I have given of this text, in note x . Moses s wordj 
can only be fulfilled, he says, under the Gospel : yet Moses 
says, " See, I have set before thee this day life and death, &c." 
Then what more natural, than to understand him as calling 
upon them to see the Gospel in their Law, and to yield a gospel 
obedience to that Law ? which every spiritual Israelite no 
doubt did. 


for the purpose of making what they please of sc. xxx. 

them. But now, if you have no eyes, turn your 

ears at least to what is here spoken, or strike your 
hand over the letters/ Moses says, it is not 
above thee, nor placed afar off, nor seated in 
heaven, nor beyond the sea/ What is the mean 
ing of above thee? f afar off? seated in 
heaven? f across the sea? Will they even 
make our grammar and the commonest words ob 
scure to us, till they make it impossible for us to 
say any thing that is certain; just to carry their 
point, that the Scriptures are obscure? 

According to my grammar, it is not quality 
or quantity of human strength, but distance of 
place, which is meant by these words. It is not a 
certain power of the will, but a place which is 
above us, that is expressed by above thee. So 
the words afar off/ across the sea/ in heaven, 
do not denote any power in man, but a place re 
moved from us upwards, to the right hand, to the 
left hand, backwards or forwards. There may be 
those perhaps, who will laugh at my thick-headed 
way of speaking, when with out-stretched hands 
I present a sort of chewed morsel 6 to these full- 
grown gentlemen, as though they had not yet 
learned their ABC, and teach them that syl 
lables must be combined into words. But what 
can I do, when I see men hunting for darkness in 
the midst of such clear light, and studiously wish 
ing to be blind, after reckoning up such a series 
of ages to us, so many geniuses, so many saints, 
so many martyrs, so many doctors ; and after 
vaunting this passage of Moses with such vast 
authority, although they deign not to inspect the 

d Manibus palpa.~\ If you cannot see, or hear, submit to 
have your finger put upon each letter, that you may trace it 
out ; as a child is taught to read. 

e Prcemansum porrigentem .] Proem. A word of doubtful au 
thority, but well fitted to express the first process in the art of 
teaching, by which the scholar eats as it were out of the 
master s mouth. 


PART in. syllables of which it consists, or to put so much of 
constraint upon their own thoughts as to consider 
for once the passage of which they make their boast. 
Go tell us now, Diatribe, how it comes to pass, 
that one obscure individual sees what so many 
public characters and the nobles of so many 
ages have not seen. Assuredly, this passage 
proves them to have been not seldom blind, were 
it but a little child that should sit in judgment 1 
upon them. 

Then what doth Moses mean by these most 
obvious and most clear words, but that he has dis 
charged his office as a faithful lawgiver to perfec 
tion? Having brought it to pass that there 
should be no cause, why they did not know, and 
have in array before them, all the commands of 
God ; and that no place should be left to them 
for urging by way of excuse, that they did not 
know or had not commandments, or must seek 
them from some other quarter. The effect of 
w r hich would be, that, if they should not keep 
them, the fault would be neither in the law, nor 
in the lawgiver, but in themselves ; since they 
have the law, and the lawgiver has taught them, 
so that there is no plea of ignorance remaining 
for them, but only a charge of negligence and of 
disobedience. It is not necessary/ says he, ( to 
fetch laws from heaven or from the parts beyond 
the seas, or from afar off; nor canst thou pretend 
either that thou hast not heard them, or that 
thou dost not possess them : thou hast them near to 
thee, they are what thou hast heard by the com 
mand of God from my lips ; thou hast understood 
them with thine heart, and hast received them to 
be read and expounded by the mouth of the 
Levites/ which are in the midst of thee, con- 

f Tractandas accepisti. ] In Dent. xxxi. 9 13. the ordinance 
is, " And Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, 
the sons of Levi, which bare the ark, the covenant of the Lord, 
and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded 
them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity 


linually: this very word and book of mine is sc.xxxi. 
witness. It remains only that thou mayest do 
them/ What is here ascribed, pray, to Freewill? 
Save that she is required to fulfil the laws which 
she has, and the excuse of ignorance and want of 
laws, is taken away. 8 

These are nearly all the texts which Diatribe Someofthc 
adduces from the Old Testament in support of nillinvX*" 
Freewill ; by releasing which, 1 we leave none re- nesses for 
maining, which are not released as well as they FreewllL 
whether she bring more, or be intending to 
bring more since she can bring nothing but a 
parcel of imperative, or conjunctive, or optative 
verbs, by which is signified not what we can do, 
or are doing (as I have so often replied to Dia- 

of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all 
Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God, in the place 
which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all 
Israel, in their hearing. Gather the people together," &c. &c. 
See also vv. 24 26. Also Josh. viii. 31 35. Also Nehem. 
viii. 1 8. Also 2 Chron. xvii. 7 9. xxx. 22. I render the 
expression ore assiduo continually : but, if I could have 
found authority for the use of the word assiduus, I should 
rather have given it a reference to what is said in Nehemiah, 
" And the Levites caused the people to understand the law, 
&c. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and 
gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." 
Luther is correct then in suggesting, that the Levites (in 
cluding the priests under this name) were to handle or dis 
course on the law to the people, not simply to read it : and, 
although he anticipates the injunction as given on this oc 
casion, it had in substance been given before (see Deut. x. 
8, 9.)> at the second delivering of the Tables. 

6 I do not quite fall in with Luther s interpretation of this 
text, as I have hinted in note x of Sect, xxviii. and note c of 
Sect. xxx. (Why are we to r shut out Paul in our interpretation 
of it ? Is not the Holy Ghost the best commentator upon the 
Holy Ghost s words ?) But I do not the less resist its ap 
plication in support of Freewill. The thing required is nigh 
thee ; what ought to be in thy mouth and in thy heart. Is 
it therefore immediately and necessarily there ? and that, of our 
own giving and getting ? 

h Quibus solutis. ] Sol. Quodligatumest, avinculis libero ; 
the bands of these captive texts having been loosed : they 
had been tied and bound in the service of Freewill. 




New Test. 
for Free 
will, begin 
ning with 
Mat. xxiii, 


tribe so often repeating the same thing) ; but what 
we ought to do, and what is required of us, to 
the end that our own impotency may become 
notorious to us, and the knowledge of sin be vouch 
safed. These texts indeed, if they prove any 
thing, through the addition of consequences and 
similes which are the invention of human reason, 
prove that Freewill possesses not only endeavour, 
or some small particle of desire; but an entire 
power and the freest ability to do -all things, 1 
without the grace of God, and without the aid of 
his Holy Spirit. 

So that nothing is further from the thing proved 
by this w r hole discourse, trodden into us, as it 
has been, by continual repetitions, than the propo 
sition which she had undertaken to prove ; namely, 
f that approvable opinion, by which Freewill is 
determined to be so impotent that it can will 
nothing good without grace, and is compelled to 
serve sin, and possesses endeavour which is not to 
be ascribed to its own energies : a monster for 
sooth, which can at the same time do nothing by 
its own energies, yet possesses a power of endea 
vouring, in its own energies ; and so consists by 
a most manifest contradiction. 1 " 

We come now to the New Testament, where a 
large force of imperative verbs is again mustered 
in the wretched service of Freewill, and the 
auxiliaries of carnal reason, such as consequences 
and similes, are fetched in : like a picture, or a 
dream, in which you should see the king of the 
flies, with his lances of straw and shields of hay, 
set in battle array against a real and w r ell-appointed 
army 1 of human warriors. Such is the kind of 

Totam vim, opposed to a fraction ; liberrimam potestatem, 
the absolute and unrestrained use of this integral power. 

k Qu(E constat contradictione manif.~] Its constituting elements 
are power and no power ; which cannot subsist together: 
what becomes of the compound then ? 

1 Veram etjustam aciem. 


warfare which the human dreams of Diatribe SECT. 
carry on against troops of divine testimonies. 

First marches forth, like the Achilles of the 
flies, that text in Matt, xxiii. " O Jerusalem, 
Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy 
children together, and thou wouldest not?" If 
all things are done by necessity, says she, might 
not Jerusalem have justly answered the Lord, 
Why consume thyself with vain tears? If thou 
wast unwilling that we should listen to the 
Prophets, why didst thou send them? why im 
pute to us what has been done by thine own will, 
our necessity ? So much for Diatribe. My reply 
is, granting for the moment, that this inference 
and proof of Diatribe s is good and true ; what is 
proved, pray? that approvable opinion, which 
says that Freewill cannot will good? Why, here 
is proved a will that is free, every whit whole, 
and able to do every thing which the Prophets 
have spoken ! Diatribe did not take upon herself 
to prove this sort of will in man. Nay, let 
Diatribe herself be the respondent here, and let 
her tell us why, if Freewill cannot will good, it 
is imputed to her that she did not hear the Pro 
phets ; whom, as being teachers of good, it was 
not possible for her to hear, through her own 
strength ? Why does Christ weep vain tears, 1 " as 
though they could have willed, what he assuredly 
knew that they could not will ? Let Diatribe 
deliver Christ from a charge of madness, I say, 
in support of that approvabJe opinion of hers, and 
straightway our opinion will have been liberated 
from this Achilles of the flies. So that this text 

m Luther seems to have confounded this passage in Matt, 
xxiii. with Luke xix. 41 44. " And when he was come near, he 
beheld the city, and wept over it." &c. &c. It is remarkable 
that the words which are so closely parallel in Luke xiii. were 
not spoken at the same time with those recorded in Matt, xxiii. 
The latter were spoken in the Temple at the close of the 
Lord s public ministry : the former, whilst he was yet in 


PART in. of Matthew either proves a complete Freewill, or 
fights against Diatribe herself, as stoutly as against 
us, and lays her prostrate with her own weapons." 
I assert, as I have done before, that the secret 
will of God, as regarded in the majesty of his 
own nature, is not matter of debate ; and that 
the rashness of man, which, through a continual 
perverseness, is always leaving necessary topics 
to attack and encounter it, should be called away 
and withdrawn from occupying herself in scruti 
nizing those secrets of His majesty, which it is 
impossible to penetrate/ seeing He dwelleth in 
light which no man can approach unto ; as Paul 
testifies. (1 Tim. vi. 16.) Let her rather occupy 
herself with the incarnate God, or (as Paul speaks) 
with Jesus the crucified : in whom are all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge, but hiddenly. 1 
He will teach her abundantly what she ought to 
know, and what not. It is the incarnate God 
then, which speaks here. I would, and thou 
wouldest not. The incarnate God, I say, was 
sent into the world for this purpose, that he might 
be willing, that he might speak, that he might 
do, that he might suffer, that he might offer r all 

n Suo illam jaculo. ] Nothing less than a complete Freewill 
can repel the objection here brought by Diatribe : therefore, 
either there is a complete Freewill which she denies or all 
such objections have no weight at all. 

Luther expresses this more briefly, but obscurely : de 
secrets, ilia voluntate majestatis non esse disputandum. 

P Scrutandis. attingereJ] Scrnt. comes nearest to our rum 
mage : ( videtur esse a scrutis, quasi sit ita in loco aliquo 
pnetentare, et versare omnia, ut etiam scruta misceantur." 
Hence applied to a dog hunting by the scent. It expresses 
the search for a thing, rather than the improper handling of 
the thing found. So Luther applies it here ; as is plain from 
attingere : the attaining to, or reaching the thing which 
was gone after. 

1 See 1 Cor. i. 23. ii. 2. Coloss. ii. 3. In this latter text, 
Luther gives the sense strictly according to the original, which 
our version does not j eV ia tlai. . . . 

r See above, Sect, xxiii. note a . 


things which are necessary for salvation, unto all SECT. 
men : although he stumbles upon many, who, XXXI1 - 
being* either left or hardened by that secret will 
of His majesty, receive him not ; willing as he is, 
speaking, working, offering as he does : which is 
just what John says, The light shineth in dark 
ness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: 
and again, c He came unto his own, and his own 
received him not/ 

Thus, it is the act of this incarnate God to 
weep, wail, and groan over the destruction of the 
wicked, whilst the will of Majesty leaves and re 
probates some, on purpose that they may perish : 
nor ought we to inquire why he does so, but to 
reverence God, who is both able and willing to do 
such things. No one, I suppose, will here cavil, 
that the will of which it is said, how often would 
I/ was exhibited to the Jews even before God s 
incarnation ; inasmuch as they are charged with 
having slain the Prophets which lived before 
Christ, and, by so doing, with having resisted 
his will. Christians know, that every thing 
which was done by the Prophets was done by 
them in the name of that Christ which was to 
come ; of whom it had been promised that he 
should become the incarnate God. So that what 
soever has been offered to man by the ministers 
of the word from the beginning of the world, may 
be rightly called the will of Christ. 8 

8 Luther gives two answers to this cavil from Matt, xxiii. 
1. It is equally inconsistent with Diatribe s statement. 2. It 
is the incarnate God, not the God of Majesty, who here 
speaks. I must strongly object to this latter solution. It im 
plies a difference, nay a contrariety, between the mind of 
God and the mind of Christ ; and thus destroys the very end 
for which Christ came even the manifestation of God as His 
express irna;e by not only negativing the fulfilment of that 
design, but absolutely intimating that he has given us false 
views of God, by shewing a mind which is the reverse of His : 
as though He Avilled salvation, where God wills destruction. 
Yet he tells us, " I came not to do mine own will but the will 
of Him that sent me." " My meat is to do the will of Him 
that sent me, and to finish his work." " I do nothing of my- 


PART in. But reason, who is quick-scented and saucy, 

will say here, f An admirable refuge this, which 


XXXIII. se if. b u t as m y Father hath taught me, I speak these things." 

" I have manifested thy name unto the men that thou gavest 

The reality me out of the world." And truly, though we shall know far 
of God s more of Cod hereafter than we can know here so that " Whe- 
secrct will ^her tj icre b e knowledge, it shall vanish away" our knowledge 
maintained of Qo(1 shall gtm be derived to us through Christ (" the lamb 

which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall 
lead them unto living fountains of waters"), and we shall never 
know any thing of God contrary to that which Jesus has exhi 
bited of Him. 

The true answer to this cavil, however, has in substance 
been given already. (See Sect, xxviii. notes l v x .) God 
standing in peculiar relations to Israel, as his typical nation 
and his visible church, had from the beginning been calling 
that people to repentance. Their history, their institutions, 
their lively oracles, their ordinary and extraordinary ministers, 
had caused them to be peculiarly, and above the rest of man 
kind, without excuse, even before Christ came. These were 
so many I woulch, and ye would nots : not Christ saying 
and willing one thing, and the Father another ; but Christ 
by the Father s commandment calling to them, and they re 
fusing. But now he had come personally and visibly amongst 
them, and could say, " If I had not come and spoken unto them, 
they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin. 
He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done 
amongst them the works which none other man did, they had 
not had sin ; but now have they both seen and hated both me 
and my Father." (John xv. 22 24.) And what is all this, 
but God in certain assumed relations uttering his voice to those 
connected with him by these relations (in other words, declar 
ing his legislative will), which those, to whom it is uttered, 
ought without doubt to obey ; and which if they did obey, they 
would according to his promise live. But ought to obey is 
not therefore have power to obey ; and have not power to 
obey, is not therefore the command is given in vain. Here 
is, man manifested ; and God, by his dealings with him. If 
Israel would/ he would have been gathered ; if Jerusalem 
would, she would have remained unto this day. But it was 
only by a grace not belonging to those relations by which God 
had at that period connected himself with Israel, that Israel 
could then have been made willing : he had all given to him 
which belonged to those relations ; to withhold trial, or to 
administer super-creation and super-covenant grace that he 
might stand, was no part of the dues which God had made 
himself debtor to him to perform and therefore Israel -justly, 
and no more than justly, tried having manifested what was in 
him with such aggravations of guilt, incurred a sentence which 
is declared to have been the requital of all the righteous blood 


you have discovered : so then, as often as you are SECT. 
pressed by the force of your adversary s argu- XXXIIL 

that had been shed upon the earth from Abel to Zecharias. 
(vv. 35, 3G.) The guilt of that generation was indeed ex 
treme ; but who shall say that it was not the concentrated 
guilt of the intermediate ages and generations of that people, 
together with their own, which was so shortly to be visited 
upon them ? Carnal reason will not hear of the children being 
visited for their fathers sin -, but both Scripture and ex 
perience testify this reality to the spiritual mind. The 
incarnate God, then, has no will contrary to the God of Ma 
jesty ; or more intelligibly, Christ s will and the Father s 
are one ; Christ s tears (see above, note m ) imply not any 
repugnance to the divine counsel ; the legislative is here, as 
in the former instances, the executor of the personal will. 
With respect to the tears which he shed over that woe which 
he was shortly to inflict, and of which he well knew the length 
and breadth, the depth and height ; it may be remarked, that 
the Lord Jesus had a human soul, as part of his complete 
human person, distinct from his divine person (See Part ii. 
Sect. viii. note r ); and that such expressions might, without 
impropriety, be referred to that part of his complex frame. 
" We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with 
the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted 
like as we are, yet without sin." He had all the sinless feelings 
of a man, and might therefore not incongruously weep at such 
a woe. But where is the contradiction to Scripture and right 
reason in understanding God himself to be moved with com 
passion at the very grief and pain which He in just judgment 
inflicts ? " Therefore my bowels are troubled for him." 
" Have I any pleasure at all in the death of him that dieth ?" 
" For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of 

It is pleasing to notice, how nearly Luther approximates to 
the truth viz. That Christ was eternally fore-ordained as 
Christ, and did by a covenant subsistence assume his person 
and personal relations, as the risen God-man, before the foun 
dation of the world in the defence Avhich he makes against 
the cavil, Christ was not yet come. He declares that every 
thing was done by the Prophets in His name, and that all 
expressions of mercy from the beginning may be rightly called 
the will of Christ : which will, according to his representation 
of it, is perfectly distinct from that of the Father (his language 
implies, contrary to it), so that there must have been a dis 
tinct agency of Christ from the beginning. Verily, this is so ; 
though not exactly as he understood and would have repre 
sented it : and I have often been surprised that, whilst most of 
those who know any thing of Christ are ready enough to ac 
knowledge, that regard was had to his sacrifice from the begin- 


PART in. ments, you have but to run back to this terrible 
will of sovereignty, and you compel your an 
tagonist to silence, when he has become trouble 
some; just as the astrologers evade all questions 
about the motions of the whole heavens, by their 
invention of Epicycles/ 1 

I answer, It is not my invention but a direction 
confirmed by the divine Scriptures. Thus speaks 

ning (for how else could any soul of man, as Abel, Enoch, 
Abraham, David, &c. &c. have been pardoned and accepted) ; 
so few distinctly recognise his personal subsistence and agency, 
as Christ, from the same period although it be in this regard 
that he is called " the Word," " the Word of life," " the life," 
" that eternal life," &c. and although a distinct personal agent, to 
use the blessed materials of his future coming and dying in the 
flesh as a Priest-king was not less necessary to the salvation 
and glorification of every individual of the saved who lived and 
died before those events had been realized ; than was the article 
of his death. In what Luther says about abstaining from what 
he calls the secret will of majesty, he speaks indistinctly, 
injuriously, and contradictorily : indistinctly, because there is 
an use as well as an abuse of such inquiries, Avhich he ought to 
have discriminated ; injuriously, because his observations would 
go the length of deterring men from even the recognition of such 
a will, and so would mar the joy and fear and gratitude and love 
of the Lord s people ; contradictorily, because he afterwards re 
cognises and makes assertions about it. Christ for sootti impinges 
upon some of God s reprobates ! Still, a hint or two may be 
borrowed with advantage from Luther s statement. God, in 
addressing himself to the world as he does by the every where 
to be preached Gospel, does clearly set himself forth to as 
many as have a heart in any degree softened and turned to- 
wards him, in the form and character of the Father of mercies 
not willing that any should perish. Such ought not to be de 
terred and affrighted by the knowledge that he has his repro 
bates. The melting heart is not the heart of a reprobate. 
But is he to shut his eyes to the fact that God has his 
reprobates ? Nay, that fact combined with the consciousness 
of his own personal impotency, turns unto him for a testimony. 
Neither can he regard God as he ought now, or in any future 
stage of his experience, without it ; for without it, the God 
whom he serves is not the true God. 

1 Epicycles. ] A little circle, Avhose centre is in the circum 
ference of a greater : or a small orb, which, being fixed in the 
deferent of a planet, carries it round its own axis, whilst it is 
itself carried round the axis of the planet. An invention of 
some bungling philosophers to account for the anomalies of 
planetary motion. 


Paul in Rom. ix. "Why doth God complain SECT. 
then ? Who shall resist his will ? O man, who art XXXIIL 
thou that contendest with God ?" " Hath not the 
potter power?" and the rest. And before him, 
Isaiah, in his 58th chapter, had said, " For they 
seek me daily, and desire to know my ways, as a 
nation which hath done righteousness : they ask 
of me the ordinances of justice, and desire to draw 
near to God." In these words, I imagine, it is 
abundantly shewn to us, that it is not lawful for 
man to scrutinize the will of sovereignty." Be 
sides, this question is of a kind which most of all 
leads perverse men to attack that awful will ; so 
that it is especially seasonable to exhort them to 
silence and reverence, when we prosecute it. In 
other questions, where the matters treated of are 
such as admit of explanation, and such as we are 
commanded to explain, I do not proceed so. 

Now if a man will not yield to my admonition, but 
persists in scrutinizing the counsels T of that will, 

11 This text does not seem to bear upon the point in hand ; 
viz. that we ought not to scrutinize the personal will of God ; 
or, as he terms it, the will of majesty/ or sovereignty. 
Luther understands f their seeking of God daily, and desiring 
to know his ways, and asking of him the ordinances of justice j 
as if they not only complained of God s appointments towards 
them being unjust, but were prying curiously into the secret 
springs of them. But does God, speaking by his Prophet, 
really mean any more than that they were hypocrites and 
formalists, yet expected the acceptance of true and devout 
worshippers ? Accordingly they were answered by shewing 
them that their fasts were not such as he had chosen, and that 
the worship which he accepts is the reverse of theirs. Ask 
of me the ordinances of justice, 1 are the only words which 
bear at all upon the subject ; and these do not necessarily 
imply, or with any probability here imply, a spirit of 

v Rationem Servian."] Rat. More literally, the method of that 
will. Ratio expresses most nearly the all about it. Scrut. 
(see last Section, note p ) does not necessarily denote a bad 
state of mind ; though clearly so here: a mind which doubts 
the fact that God has such a will, questions his right to have 
it, and cavils at its decisions. To inquire what the word of 
God has recorded concerning this will with deep reverence ; 




Matt. xix. 
17- and 
other like 


I let him go on and fight with God, as the giants 
did of old ; waiting to see what sort of triumphs 
he carries off, and very sure in the mean time, 
that he will withdraw nothing from our cause, and 
confer nothing upon his own. For it will remain 
fixed, that either he must prove Freewill to be 
capable of doing every thing, or the Scriptures 
which he quotes must contradict his own position. 
Whichsoever of these be the issue, he lies pros 
trate as the conquered man, and I am found 
standing upon my feet, as the conqueror. x 

Your second text is Matthew xix. 17. " If thou 
wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." 
With what face could it be said, "If thou 
wilt/ to a man whose will is not free/ So says 

To whom I reply ; does this saying of Christ s 

and meekly, rejoicingly, to submit to that record j would not be 
making war as the giants of old did against Jupiter. 

x See here a confirmation ofmy remark in Sect, xxviii. note *, 
that it is against the impugners and deniers of that will which 
is distinct from God s legislative will, not against its sober 
investigators and maintainers, that Luther is protesting ! His 
answer to the cavil from Matt, xxiii. and like passages is, 
Aye, but there is another w r ill behind this, which is contrary 
to this, and which we must be content to leave, with asserting 
it. God as revealed, or, as he afterwards describes him, 
Christ, the incarnate God, wills only life ; but there is another 
will of God, a will not expressed by this incarnate God, which 
wills death ; and therefore these things which appear to prove 
Freewill (by inference) may still be said, and yet man be in 
bondage : because, whilst he deplores, he doth also not deplore. 
This latter will is not to be searched into, or acted upon ; it is 
only to be asserted and believed : deny it, if you dare ; you 
will only be running your head against the wall, making war 
against God. For objections to this statement, and for a more 
consistent answer to the cavil, &c. &c. see note s of the last 
Section. Luther says worse than he means, but he means 
ignorantly. It had not been given him to know the mystery of 
God and the Father, and of Christ : lie did not understand how 
that God is not hiding himself behind Christ, but making himself 
seen in Christ ; so that it shall be truly said, " He that hath 
seen me hath seen the Father : if ye had known me, ye should 
have known my Father also ; and from henceforth ye know 
him, and have seen him." (John xiv. 9. 7.) 


then establish that the will is free ? Why, you SECT. 
meant to prove that Freewill can will nothing XXXIV - 
good, and will necessarily serve sin, if grace 
be out of the way. With what face then do you 
now make it all free ? 

The same shall be said to the words, f If thou 
wilt be perfect/ if any man will come after me/ 
( whosoever will save his soul/ if ye love me/ ( if 
ye abide in me/ (Nay, let all the conjunctions if, 
and all the imperative verbs, as I have said/ be 
collected together by way of assisting Diatribe in 
the number, at least, of her quotations.) All these 
precepts are unmeaning/ she says, if nothing be 
attributed to the human will. How ill does that 
conjunction, if agree with mere necessity! 

I answer ; if they be unmeaning, it is your own 
fault that they are so, or rather are nothing at all : 
you make this nonentity of them by asserting that 
nothing is ascribed to the human will, so long as 
you represent that Freewill cannot will good, and 
here on the other hand representing, that it can 
will all good ; unless it be, that the same words 
are both hot and cold in the same instant, as 
you use them, at once asserting every thing and 
denying every thing.* Truly I am at a loss to think, 
why an author should have been pleased to say the 
same thing so many times over, forgetting his 
thesis perpetually, unless perchance, through 
mistrust of his cause, he had a mind to gain the 
victory by the size of his book, or to wear out 
his adversary by making it tedious and burthen- 
some to peruse. By what sort of consequence, I 
would ask, does it follow that will and power must 

y See above, Sect. xx. 

2 Frigent.] See above, Sect. xxix. note v. 

a It is you who take away all warmth and life from such 
passages as these, by making the will a contradiction ; it can 
do nothing, it can do all things : these assertions destroy each 
other, and leave a nought as the result, unless they mean op 
posite things, such as yes/ and no/ at the same instant. 



PART HI. forthwith be present to the soul, as often as it is 

said, If thou wilt/ if a man will/ if them 

shalt be willing/ Do not we most frequently 
denote impotency and impossibility, rather than 
the contrary, by such expressions ? As in these 
examples : If thou wilt equal Virgil in singing, 
my Ma3vius, thou must sing other songs ; If thou 
wilt surpass Cicero, my Scotus, thou must ex 
change thy subtilties for the most consummate 
eloquence ; If thou wilt be compared with David, 
thou must utter Psalms like his/ By these con 
ditionals, it is plain that things impossible of 
attainment to our own powers are denoted, 
whilst by a divine power all things are possible to 
us. Thus it is with the Scriptures also : what 
may be done in us by the power of God, and 
what we cannot do of ourselves, is declared by 
such like words. 

Besides, if such things were said about actions 
absolutely impossible, as those which even God 
also would never at any time do by us, then 
would they be rightly called either cold or ridi 
culous, as being said to no purpose. But the 
truth is, these expressions are used not only to 
show the impotency of Freewill, which causes 
that none of these things be done by us ; but at 
the same time to intimate that all such things are, 
at some time or other, about to be and to be 
done howbeit by another s power, even God s : 
if we quite admit that there is in such like 
words some intimation of things which are to 
be done, and which are possible. As if a man 
should interpret them thus : If thou shalt be wil 
ling to keep the commandments/ that is, If thou 
shalt at some time possess a will (thou wilt pos 
sess it however, not of thyself, but of God who 
will give it to whom it shall be his will to give it) 
to keep the commandments, they also shall pre 
serve thee/ Or, to speak more freely, these verbs, 
particularly the conjunctive verbs, seem to be 


inserted thus on account of God s predestination SECT. 
also as being that which we do not know and to 
involve it : as if they should mean to say, If 
thou wilt/ f If thou shalt be willing that is, ( If 
thou shalt be such in the sight of God as that he 
shall count thee worthy of this will to keep the 
commandments thou shalt be saved/ Each of 
these two things is couched under this trope : b 
namely, that, on the one hand we can do nothing 
of ourselves ; and on the other, whatever we do, 
God worketh it in us. I should speak thus to 
those who would not be content to have it said, 
that our impotency only is expressed by these 
words, but would maintain, that a certain power 
and ability of doing those things which are en 
joined, is proved by them. Thus it would at once 
be true, that we could do none of the things com 
manded, and could at the same time do all of 
them ; if we should apply the former assertion to 
our own powers, the latter to the grace of God. c 

Thirdly, Diatribe is affected by this consider- Erasmus s 
ation : Where there is such frequent mention objection 
of good and bad works, says she ; where there cepts P are 
is mention of reward ; I do not see how there can given, and 

b TropoJ] Any figurative mode of speech, as opposed to one 
that is plain, simple, and straight forward j whatever be the 
particular nature of the obliquity : whether grammatical, as 
here ; or rhetorical. 

c Luther gives three answers to these texts. 1. Erasmus 
inconsistent with himself. 2. They teach human impotency. 
3. They insinuate the possibility of divine help, and glance at 
his predestinative favour. In some instances, doubtless, as in 
Matthew xix. and its parallels (Mark x. Luke xviii.), a peculiar 
design may also be traced the teaching of the natural man s 
impotency, and the hint at what God, according to his eternal 
purpose, will do in his people but all these, multifarious as they 
are, may be resolved into, the Lawgiver speaks : whose voice 
implies not either power in man, or promise in God. The end 
is not always conviction of sin in mercy ; sometimes it is 
f" whom he will he hardeneth ;" but always, it is man made 
to shew what he is, unto the more perfect manifestation of God 
by him. See Sect, xxviii. notes t v x . 



merit is 
to Free 
will, consi 
ent with 


New Tes 
are ad 
dressed to 
the con- 


be place for mere necessity. Neither nature, 
nor necessity, says she, hath merit/ d 

Nor do I forsooth understand how there can 
be this place ; save, that the approvable opinion 7 
asserts mere necessity in saying that Freewill can 
will nothing good, but here attributes even merit 
to it. Freewill has made such advances during 
the growth of this book and disputation of Dia 
tribe s, that now she not only has desire and 
endeavour for her own (howbeit, by a strength 
not her own); nay, she not only wills and does 
good, but even merits eternal life; because Christ 
says in the fifth of St. Matthew (ver. 12), " Re 
joice and be exceeding glad, for your reward is 
abundant in the heavens." Your reward ; that is, 
FreewilPs reward : for so Diatribe understands 
this text, making Christ and the Spirit to be 
nothing; for what need is there of these, if we 
have good works and merits through Freewill ? I 
mention this, that we may see how common it is 
for men of excellent abilities to be wont to show 
a blindness in matters which are manifest to even 
a dull and uncultivated mind; and how weak 
an argument drawn from human authority is, in 
divine things : where divine authority alone has 
weight. 6 

Two distinct topics must here be spoken to : 
first, the precepts of the New Testament; and 
secondly, merit. I shall dispatch each of these in 
few words, having spoken of them rather pro 
lixly on other occasions. The New Testament 
properly consists of promises and exhortations, 
just as the Old properly consists of laws and 

d Natura, necessitas.~\ By nature/ in this connection, I sup 
pose he means an inherent, settled, constitution of things ; 
which produces actions involuntarily : by necessity, a com 
pulsory influence exercised upon such a constitution, from 

e The inconsistency is Erasmus s : his Freewill is necessity ; 
but, according to him, is the subject of reward. 


threatenings. For, in the New Testament, the SECT. 
Gospel is preached ; which is nothing else but a XXXVI - 
discourse offering the Spirit, together with grace, verted not 
unto that remission of sins which hath been to those in 
obtained for us by the crucifixion of Christ : and Freewi11 - 
all this gratuitously, because the mercy only of God 
the Father befriends us, unworthy as we are, and 
deserving damnation, as we do, rather than any 
thing else. Then follow exhortations, to stir up 
those who are already justified, and have obtained 
mercy, unto a strenuousness in bringing forth the 
fruits of that freely bestowed righteousness and 
of the Spirit, and unto the acting of love in the 
performance of good works, and unto the bearing 
of the cross and of all the other tribulations of 
the world with a good courage. This is the sum 
of all the New Testament. How entirely ignorant 
Diatribe is of this matter, she abundantly shows 
in not knowing how to make the least difference 
between the Old Testament and the New ; for 
she sees almost nothing in either, save laws 
and precepts, by which men are to be formed to 
good manners. What new birth is ; what re 
newal, regeneration, and the whole work of the 
Spirit ; she sees not at all : to my utter wonder 
and astonishment, that a man who has laboured 
so long and so studiously in the Scriptures should 
be so perfectly ignorant of them. 

So then, this saying, " Rejoice and be exceed 
ing glad, for much is your reward in the hea 
vens," squares just about as well with Freewill as 
light agrees with darkness. For Christ therein 
exhorts not Freewill, but his Apostles (who not 
only were in a state above Freewill, as being 
already partakers of grace and just persons; but 
were even established in the ministry of the word; 
that is, in the highest station of grace), to bear the 
tribulations of the world. But we are engaged 
in discussing Freewill, specially as she subsists 
without grace ; who is instructed by laws and 
threatenings (that is, by the Old Testament) into 


PART in. the knowledge of herself, that she may run to the 
promises set forth in the New/ 

f Such is Luther s representation of the New Testament as 
contrasted with the Old, and of the Gospel. The New is 
promises and exhortations ; the Old is law and threaten 
ing^. The Gospel is f the Spirit, and grace unto salvation, 
offered to all men ; through Christ, who died for all. * For 
some objections to this statement, as it respects offers of 
grace, see above, Sect, xxiii. note a ; as it respects the oppo 
sition between the Law and the Gospel, see above, Sect. xxiv. 
note . The Gospel is certainly to be preached to all j to the 
reprobate as well as to the elect ; but with what propriety this 
can be called an offer of grace to all, or to any, may be fairly 
questioned : much more, with what consistency such language 
can be used by one who so stoutly maintained, as Luther did, 
both the impotency of the natiiral man, and the God-made 
difference between the elect and the reprobate. With such views 
as Luther had of the atonement, as though Christ had shed his 
blood for those from whom it was the Father s good pleasure 
to hide the mysteries of his kingdom ; and with such a want 
of insight into the first principle of divine counsel, operation, 
and revelation even God s design of manifesting himself} 
in short, with such a want of insight into God ; it was im 
possible that he should not speak inconsistently. Indeed it 
would be little, if inconsistency were all. Such language is 
illusive, perplexing, and subversive to man ; and, whilst it 
aims to beautify God, defames him ! He is correct, however, 
to some considerable extent : he nobly asserts, that salva 
tion is altogether gratuitous, the produce of the Father s 
mercy, conferred upon the hell-deserving through the alone 
merit of Christ s death. He nobly asserts, that the precep 
tive parts of the New Testament are for the called and jus 
tified only. But why is the Old Testament to be thus set in 
array against the New ? Where is the law and threaten- 
ings in the book of Genesis ? What more truly Evangelical 
words are to be found in the New Testament, than in Isaiah 
and the other Prophets ; in the Psalms, and in Luther s favour 
ite book of Deuteronomy ? The Old Testament, as our 
7th Article wisely speaks, is not contrary to the New : for 
both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered 
to mankind by Christ, who is the only mediator between God 
and man, being both God and man. The truth is, even the 
Law itself, as I have already remarked, is Gospel in enigma j 
and the scribe that is instructed in the New Testament finds 
the Old its best commentator and confirmer ; what has in 
structed the same family in its tenderer years, and now makes 
the " young men" perfect. / should speak rather differently 

* Note, he distinguishes between the Spirit and grace, though not very 
correctly; it is the Spirit as given to the justified, of which he speaks : but 
this is part of the grace of God ; that is, " of the things which are freely 
given to us of God." 


But as to merit, or a reward being proposed, SECT. 
what is this but a sort of promise ? This proves XXXVIL 
not that we have any power; for nothitig else is TT 

, , ., , , I, 1 . c i 11 i i Merit and 

expressed by it, but that, it a man shall have done reward 
this or that thing, then he shall have a reward. maycon- 
But our question is, not how* a reward, or what necessity. 
sort of a reward, shall be rendered to a man ; but 
whether we can do those things to which a 
reward is rendered. This was the thing to be 
proved. Is it not a ridiculous consequence : 
The reward of the judge is proposed to all that 
are in the course; therefore all can run and ob 
tain ? If Caesar shall have conquered the Turk, 
he shall enjoy the kingdom of Syria : therefore 
Ca3sar can conquer, and does conquer the Turk. 
If Freewill rules over sin, it shall be holy to the 
Lord ; therefore Freewill is holy to the Lord. 
But I will say no more about these superlatively 
stupid and palpably absurd reasonings ; save, that 
it is most worthy of Freewill to be defended by 
such exquisite arguments. Let me rather speak 
to this point ; that ( necessity has neither merit, 

of the Apostles. They were to be what he describes, with 
the exception of one of them j but they ivere not this yet. 
If they could be truly said to know Christ at all, till the day 
of Pentecost was fully come, they knew him " after the flesh." 
(2 Cor. v. 16.) But it is not to the Twelve exclusively, that 
the Lord addresses these words (Matt. v. 12.), nor of them 
exclusively that he speaks. His precepts were for the regu 
lation of their conduct, and of the conduct of all his converted 
people (whilst walking through the wilderness of this world 
in his kingdom), as they should hereafter be called, one by one, 
into vital union with him : that union, of which his elect have 
the sacrament in their baptism, but the reality, when either 
before or after the receiving of that sacrament, the Spirit has 
been given, to convert and to dwell in them. Luther s argu 
ment, however, is not shaken by this distinction. The Lord 
speaks as to real members of his kingdom ; to persons there 
fore, who are above and beyond that state of Freewill which is 
the matter of dispute. Already Luther has shewn Erasmus in 
consistent with himself in arguing from this text (see Sect, 
xxxv.) : his second answer is, ( this text (to which all other 
New Testament precepts might be added) does not apply. 

g Quo modo.~] How, in point of action ; what he must do 
that he may be entitled. 


PART in. n or reward. If we speak of a necessity of com- 
"" pulsion, it is true : if we speak of a necessity of 
immutability, it is false. 11 Who would give a 
reward, or impute merit, to an unwilling work 
man? But to those who wilfully do good or evil, 
even though they cannot change this will by their 
own power, there follows, naturally and neces 
sarily, reward or punishment; as it is written, 
" Thou wilt render unto every man according to 
his works." It follows naturally, if you plunge 
into water, you will be suffocated ; if you swim 
out, you will save your life. 

To be brief; in the matter of merit, or reward, 
the inquiry is either about the worthiness, or 
about the consequence, of actions. If you look 
at worthiness, there is no such thing as merit ; 
there is no such thing as reward. For, if Free 
will can will nothing good of itself, and wills good 
only through grace (we are speaking, you know, 
of Freewill as separate from grace, and are in 
quiring what power is proper to each), who does 
not see that this good will, together with its 
merit and its reward, is of grace only? And 
here again, Diatribe is at variance with herself in 
arguing the freedom of the will from merit, and 
is in the same condemnation with me whom she 
opposes : since it fights equally against herself 
as against me, that there is merit, that there is 
reward, that there is liberty; after she has asserted, 
as she does above, that Freewill can will nothing 
good, and has undertaken to prove such a sort of 

If you look at the consequences of actions, 
there is nothing either good or bad, which has not 
its reward. And we get into mistakes from this 
cause, that, in speaking of merits and rewards, 
we agitate useless considerations and questions 
about the worth of actions which is none when 

h For this distinction, see above, Part i. Sect. xi. Sect. 



we ought to be debating only about the conse- SECT. 
quences of them. For hell and the judgment of XXXVI1 - 
God await the wicked by a necessary conse 
quence,, even though they themselves neither de 
sire, nor think of such a reward for their sins ; 
nay, though they exceedingly detest and, as Peter 
says, execrate it. In like manner, the kingdom 
awaits the godly, though they neither seek it, nor 
think of it themselves ; being a possession pre 
pared for them of their Father, not only before 
they were themselves in existence, but even be- 
fore the foundation of the world. 

Nay, if these latter were doing good that they 
might obtain the kingdom, they never would 
obtain it; and would belong rather to the com 
munity of the wicked, who, with an evil and 
mercenary eye, " seek their own," k even in 
God. But the sons of God do good through a 
gratuitous good pleasure ; not seeking any re 
ward, but simply seeking the glory, and aiming 
to do the will, of God : they are prepared to do 
good, even though according to an impossible 
supposition, there were no such thing as either 
kingdom or hell-fire. I think these things are 
quite sure from that single saying of Christ in 
Matt. xxv. " Come ye blessed of my Father, 
receive the kingdom, which hath been prepared 

1 Detestentur, execrentur .] For proper meaning of detes- 
tor, see above, Part 5. Sect. vii. note l . It is opposed to 
obtestor; as calling God to witness, unto evil and not unto 
good. Malum alicui imprecari, Dcos testes ciendo ,- execrari. 
Here, however, I understand it literally, according to its 
derived meaning ; and so, exsecror ; which properly denotes 
removing out of sacred relations, or subjecting to a curse. 
The allusion is to 2 Pet. ii. 10 15. " But these. . . . speak evil 
of the things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in 
their own corruption ; and shall receive the reward of un 
righteousness." B\aT0i7/iHj/Te9. The original text makes the 
reference plainer than our version. 

k " All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus 
Christ s." (Phil. ii. 21.) Not content with seeking their own 
glory, &c. &c. in their dealings with man, they seek it even 
from the hands of God : He is to do them good, not himself. 


PART HI. for you from the foundation of the world." How 
do they earn that, which is even now theirs, and 
which was prepared for them before they were 
born ? So that we should speak more correctly, 
if we should say, the kingdom of God doth 
rather earn us for its possessors, than we it; 
placing merit where they place reward, and 
reward where they place merit. For the king 
dom is not to be prepared, but hath been pre 
pared ; but the children of the kingdom are to be 
prepared, not themselves to prepare the king- s 
dom: that is, the kingdom earns her children, : 
not the children the kingdom. Hell, in like man 
ner, doth rather earn her children, and prepare 
them, than they it ; since Christ says, " Depart 
ye cursed into everlasting fire, which hath been 
prepared for the devil and his angels." 1 

1 Erasmus objects, that c so much mention of good works 
and reward, in Scripture, is inconsistent with mere necessity j 
which can have no merit. 

Luther answers, though not exactly in this order : 1. Merit 
and reward are as inconsistent with your Freewill (which can 
will nothing good) as with mine. 2. Reward is a matter of 
promise ; which implies nothing of power, the alone thing in 
question. 3. Merit and reward are not inconsistent with a 
necessity of immutability, though they be inconsistent with a 
necessity of compulsion. (See above, note h .) Merit is not 
necessarily merit of worth ; reward may be a consequence of 
actions, in which there is no merit of worth. 4. The king 
doms of heaven and hell earn their children^ severally; not 
they them. 

The two first of these answers are valid; and, if it were 
merely so many rounds of the boxer, or so many grapple- 
ments of the wrestler, of which we are watching the result, 
we must give the palm to Luther : he has supplanted, he has 
knocked down his antagonist. But we want to hear some 
thing against merit and reward : and here, Luther is evasive 
and subtle in his reasoning, though correct in his conclusion. 
Necessity of immutability does not necessarily imply absence 
of merit ; because that which the Avill cannot do for itself, it 
may be changed by another to do. Luther has supplied the 
basis of a solid and satisfactory answer, in his fourth reply; 
Avhilst he has neither opened it, nor appears to be sensible of 
its force and marrow. The kingdoms earn their children 
severally, not they them. 


Then what mean those declarations which pro- SECT. 
mise the kingdom and threaten hell ? What XXXVIIL 

Upon Luther s principles, it is impossible to give a solid an- are oro _ 
swer to the objection of merit. For, if Christ has died alike m ; ses an( i 
for all ; if he has done and suffered the same both for the elect threaten- 
and for the reprobate 5 so that there is no difference between ings in 
them, as far as respects HIS merit (which is the essence of the Scripture, 
doctrine of Universal Redemption) ; then, either there must be 
merit in the individuals of the elect, or there is with God 
repect of persons : HE makes a different award to some from 
what he does to others, alike meritorious or unmeritorious, 
through partiality. Nor will it suffice to say (as Luther does), 
this reward is mere matter of consequence, like the man swim 
ming out of water, &c. God sees somewhere that which makes 
it the demand of His justice that he should put a difference : 
and, since this is not in Christ, it must be in the individuals 
themselves. The true answer is, that God has assumed dis 
tinct, super-creation relations to his elect, in Christ; which 
render it imperative upon him to give them grace and glory, 
each in its season. This is the true meaning of the kingdom 
of heaven earning her sons : there are relations of and be 
longing to that kingdom, which communicate the power that is 
necessary to the inheriting of that kingdom, in consistency 
with all that God is, and to the manifestation of him as that 
God which he is. So again, with respect to the kingdom of 
hell : that kingdom has relations which have procured its in 
habitants and inheritors. The devil has had a power given to 
him, by which he has drawn legions into his service, and 
is bringing those legions to be his companion in torments j 
legions, not of devils only, but of reprobate and accursed men : 
from which number, as equally ruined by the devil and self- 
destroyed with the rest, the elect people of God, through their 
super-creation relations to him in Christ, or, as it has just now 
been expressed, through the relations of the kingdom of God 
(of which God, of his distinguishing favour, has given to them 
to be members), are rescued. Merit and reward are made 
nearly as much a stumbling-block to the maintainers of free 
grace, as the sin and impotency of the natural man are to the 
merit-mongers : with this difference, that the stumbling-blocks 
which may be thrown vipon the path of truth are superable and 
removable, whilst falsehood may pass by, and cover over, 
but she cannot expose and expel her stumbling-blocks. 
Too often, however, the sincere and strenuous advocates of 
truth defend her cause weakly, and even dangerously. Who 
will be satisfied, for instance, with that answer to an objection 
brought against the truth, which assumes that there is no such 
thing as " recompense of reward" in the Bible ; no soldier s 
crown; no servant s wages ; no agonistic palm ; no for* to 
the call of the blessed of my Father ; or that all these things and 


PART in. meanetli that word < reward/ so often repeated as 
- it is, throughout the Scriptures ? " Thy work 

sayings are resolvable into what Christ personally hath clone ; 
and might, if, according to that will of his and of the Father s 
which is represented as no other than perfectly arbitrary, he 
saw fit to do so, be bestowed upon his enemies and blasphemers, 
just as righteously as upon his servant-friends ? (See John. 
xv. 15.) 

The true objection to merit and reward is, that, as generally 
understood and represented, they suppose something of good 
in the natural man; in that self-ruined, self-damned, and self- 
made-impotent thing which has merited Hell before he was 
born into the world, and can merit nothing but Hell. But, 
what now if it please God to give to this self-ruined, self- 
made-impotent thing new powers, under a new relation, and 
by a new title ? Is there any thing to prevent God from 
accepting an equivalent, if such can be found, for that punish 
ment which is the just reward of this his moral creature s sin ; 
and, of his own free, sovereign and distinguishing favour (as it 
respects the subject of his infinite, everlasting, and inestimable 
bounty), placing him in new relations, and endowing him with 
new capacities as the fruit of those relations ? And why may not 
this new-made creature, so related, so capacitated, and so con 
nected, act in a manner worthy of those relations, and so entitle 
himself to those results which the God of all grace has seen 
fit to attach to the maintenance and fulfilment of those rela 
tions ? This is just the state and case of the eternally fore 
known, elect, predestinated, given and received people of God, 
in Christ Jesus, their grace and glory Head. Contemplated as 
now already self-destroyed and fallen in Adam ; under express 
sentence of death, with all that awful hereafter which was 
implied though not expressed in that sentence ; the Lord Jesus, 
by making himself sin for them, and dying Avith them, renders 
it consistent in God to raise them up from the dead, and to 
bring them out into a new state of being, with new relations, 
capacities, enjoyments and privileges, in him. In a figure, 
they are said to have risen with Christ ; in reality, the indubi- 
tability of their future rising was publicly sealed, and manifested 
to the whole world, by his rising : I say publicly, because it 
had been secretly sealed, in the eternal covenant transactions of 
the Three in Jehovah, before the worlds. " This is that grace 
which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." 
(2 Tim. i. 9.) Regeneration, in its most correct view, is a 
partial fulfilment of the personal resurrection of the Lord s 
elect : it is the resurrection of the soul or spirit. " The hour 
is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of 
the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John v. 25.) 
By it they are brought into a resurrection state ; are shewn to 
be of those who shall hereafter rise with a body like His, and 


hath a reward," saith he. " I am thy exceeding; SECT. 

O "V"V" V XT FT T 

great reward." Again ; " Who rendereth unto 

are now called to serve him in an intermediate state, as " God s 
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which 
God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."* 
(Ephes. ii. 10.) Thus they are, essentially, grace receivers of 
grace powers, called and enabled to act in a manner worthy of 
a grace reward. Here is reward then, not of mere consequence, 
but of merit : of merit, which has worth or dignity in it, yet is 
all the while grace ; free, distinguishing, sovereign grace. 
Thus grace reigneth ; but it is THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS : which 
means, if the connection of those words be duly observed, not 
merely through Christ s being personally righteous ; but 
through, and in a way of righteousness, as it respects the 
persons of his people. (Rom. v. 2O, 21. compare with the whole 
of Rom. vi. which follows, specially from ver. 14 to ver. 23.) 
Many, doubtless, will cavil at this statement ; but it is for 
lack of distinguishing things which essentially differ ; it is for 
lack of understanding the true nature, origin, design, consti 
tuent subjects, and provisions of the kingdom of God ; it is 
for lack of understanding that the members of that kingdom 
are persons already saved (" Who hath saved us, and called 
us with an holy calling 5" "for by grace ye are saved;" 
" unto us which are saved, it is the power of God") ; not 
men striving for life to get life, but a/m/e/y-living men ; not 
natural men, but men joined unto the Lord, and who are one 
spirit with him ; which constitute the reward-earning commu 
nity : concerning whom, it is God s glory that they, being 
brought out, as they are, in the face and heart of the world 
a world made up of hypocrites, or false professors of his name, 
on the one hand ; and of declared enemies and persecutors on 
the other " should walk worthy of the vocation wherewith 
they are called ;" fl should walk worthy of God, who hath 
called them to his kingdom and glory ;" " should be counted 
worthy of his kingdom," and should manifest him to be the 
righteous God in recompensing rest (their consummation and 
bliss) to them, when he recompenseth tribulation to them that 
have troubled them." If this statement be duly apprehended, 

* When we speak of good works, people are apt to run immediately into 
the idea of law works, as if the Ten Commandments were to be brought 
back again : not considering, that good is a relative term ; and that good 
works, therefore, must be those which are consistent with the relations under 
which we stand, when performing 1 them. If it were possible for renewed 
man, I M the cltiys of hi,? Jiesh, to keep the whole law, he would not thereby 
do good works. The law is for creation man ; the Gospel is for super- 
creation man. It is the obedience of a redeemed sinner, to which he is 
called in Christ Jesus ; an obedience analogous to that fuller and more dis 
tinct manifestation of God, which he has made of himself in his new, after- 
creation kingdom. To this obedience, as many as have been created, or 
builded, in Christ Jesus from the very first, as Abel, &c, have been called 
and brought, according to their measure of faith. 


PART in. every man according to his works." And Paul 
in Romans ii. saith, " To those who by the 

patience of good works seek for eternal life :" 

and many like sayings. 

The answer is, that all these sayings prove 

nothing but a consequence of reward, and by no 

means a worthiness of merit : m that those, for- 

it will give their legitimate force and meaning to numberless 
passages of Scripture, which some bring forward to contradict 
the truth of God, and others pare down and mutilate to main 
tain it. The essence of the distinction too, that the grace 
which earneth reward is truly super-creation grace, furnishes a 
sure test by which to try and convict hypocrites. How com 
mon is the language, O, I know I have nothing that I have 
not received. Yes, but how hast thou received it ? Grace is 
that principle in the divine mind which makes distinctions : 
grace is not only favour, but free favour ; not only free favour, 
but separating favour ; in the case we are considering, is sepa 
rating favour, shewn in a way of mercy ; that is, shewn to those 
who have deserved a contrary sort of treatment. Hast thou 
received then by a new and super-creation title ; which puts 
a difference between Adam s alike self-destroyed and wholly- 
destroyed sons ? Or, is it that thou hast cultivated thy natural 
powers j or, if it pleaseth thee rather, hast improved that gos 
pel-grace which is bestowed on all, and has put all into a 
capacity of working out their own salvation ? The answer 
will unmask the man : grace knows itself, and knows its 

In asserting that the kingdom of hell has earned, and is earn 
ing, its subjects through a power which God has given to the 
devil, I would be understood to intimate that the devil could 
neither be, nor continue to be, without the will of God; and 
that hell is filled through his agency : by which, in perfect 
consistency with all creation relations and obligations, ruin 
was originally brought upon man ; and by which he secures 
and retains to himself that spoil, which it is the Father s good 
pleasure that he should carry off, to ins glory. 

m Sequelam mercedis, meriti dignitatem. ] The expression seems 
inverted ; worthiness of merit, for merit which has worth in 
it : the meaning clearly is reward follows as a consequence, 
but there is nothing of meritorious worthiness in the subject. 
Luther, in what follows, overstates the matter of disinterested 
ness ; and afterwards virtually contradicts himself. We are 
not called to be insensible to the end, but urged to keep it in 
view ; and why, but as a source of encouragement ? which he 
presently affirms. What, indeed, is that following because, 
but an admission of the same thing ? The cure for servility 
is, " to the praise of the glory of his grace" saved 


sooth, who do good, do it not through a servile SECT. 
and mercenary disposition to gain eternal life, but xxxvnl - 
still seek eternal life ; that is, are in the way by 
which they shall arrive at and obtain eternal life. 
So that, to seek eternal life, is painfully to strive, 
and with urgent labour to endeavour, because it 
is wont to follow after a good life. Now, the 
Scriptures declare that these things will take 
place, and will follow after a good or evil life; in 
order that men may be instructed, admonished, 
excited, terrified : for, as by the law is the know 
ledge of sin and admonishment of our impotency, 
yet is it not inferred from this law that we have 
any power ; even so, we are admonished and 
taught, by those promises and threatenings, what 
follows after that sin and impotency of ours, 
which the law has pointed out to us ; but nothing 
of worthiness is ascribed by them to our merit. 

Wherefore, as law words stand in the place of 
instruction and illumination, to teach us what we 
ought to do ; and, as the next step, what we can 
not do : so words of reward, whilst they intimate 
what is to happen, stand in the place of exhort 
ation and threatening, to stir up, comfort, and 
revive the godly," that they may go on, persevere, 
and conquer, in doing good, and enduring evil, 
least they should be weary or broken-hearted. 
Just as Paul exhorts his Corinthian converts, 
saying, " Quit yourselves like men;" "knowing 
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord/ 

already the triumph sure Christ magnified by my 
body God does all our works in us we will do what 
he enables we will suffer what he appoints to us happy 
by the way how much more happy when in my Father s 
house ! There is nothing mercenary here ; but the end is 
neither hidden, nor undesired. See above, note . 

n Excitantur, consolantur, eriguntur. ] EJCC. is a more general 
term, applicable to any that want excitement ; but erig. applies 
especially to those who have fallen or been cast down, and so 
want raising up. How beautifully this process is described in 
Ezek. xxxiv. ! 

Luther quotes these words as if they were parts of the 




objects to 
this ac 
count, but 
is an 
such is 
the will of 


Thus God revives Abraham by saying, < I am thy 
exceeding great reward. Just as if you should 
cheer a person, by telling him that his works 
assuredly please God : a sort of consolation which 
the Scripture frequently uses. Nor is it a small 
degree of consolation for a man to know that he 
pleases God ; though nothing else should follow 
from it: which is, however, impossible. 

All that is said about hope and expectation 
must be referred to this consideration, that the 
things hoped for will certainly take place ; al 
though godly men do not hope, because of the 
things themselves, or seek such benefits for their 
own sake. So again, ungodly men are terrified 
and cast down by words of threatening, which 
announce a judgment to come, that they may 
cease and abstain from evil; that they may not 
be puffed up ; that they may not grow secure and 
insolent in their sins. Now, if reason should turn 
up her nose here and say, Why would God have 
these impressions to be made by his words, when 
no effect is produced by such words, and when 
the will cannot turn itself either way? why doth 
he not perform what he doth, without taking no 
tice of it in the word (seeing he can do all 
things without the word ; and seeing the will 
neither has more power, nor performs more, ofij 
itself, through the hearing of the word, if the 
Spirit be lacking to move the soul within; nori 
would have less power, or perform less, though 
the word were silent, if the Spirit were vouch- j 
safed; since all depends upon the power andi 
work of the Holy Ghost); my reply is, God has 
determined to give the Spirit by the word, and 
not without it, having us for his cooperators, to 
sound without what he alone and by himself 
breathes within, just where he pleases; producing 
effects, which he could no doubt accomplish; 

same sentence : but the one is part of 1 Cor. xv. 58. the other 
of 1 Cor. xvi. 13. 


without the word, bat which it is not his SECT. 
pleasure so to do. And who are we, that w r e XXXIX 
should demand the reason why God wills so ? It 
is enough for us to know that God wills so; and 
it becomes us to reverence,, to love, and to adore 
this will, putting a restraint upon rash Reason. 
Even Christ, in Matt. xi. assigns no other cause 
for the Gospel being hidden from the wise and 
revealed to babes, than that so it seemed good to 
the Father. p So he might nourish us without 
bread, and he has, in point of fact, given us a 
power of being nourished without bread, as he 
says in Matt. iv. (f Man is not nourished by 
bread alone, but by the word of God." q Still, it 
hath pleased him to nourish us inwardly by his 
word, through the means of bread ; and that 
bread fetched into us from without/ 

It stands good, therefore, that merit is not 
proved by reward ; in the Scriptures, at least : 
and again, that Freewill is not proved by merit; 
much less such a Freewill as Diatribe has under 
taken to prove ; one which cannot will any thing 
good, of itself. For, if you should even concede 
that there is such a thing as merit, and should 

p Here we are reminded again of the defect of Luther s 

views. It is not arbitrary will, but counselled will of God 

accomplishing the best end by just and necessary means, 

which gives occasion to this arrangement. The declaration 

of his truth, by the word, to the self-made-impotent is neces- 

ary to the manifestation of himself, through his dealings 

vith them. The " Even so, Father," would be enough ; but 

e has been so kind as to show us more ; and there are 

>laces and seasons where this more should be brought into 

iht. See Sect, xxviii. notes l v x . 

The original text in Deuteronomy viii. says, Ki itrSs, 

j r T 

Every that proceedeth;" meaning no doubt, as the Lord 
juotes it, every word of command which he gives. 

Thus it is God s word which imparts its power of nou- 
ishing to the natural bread ; but still he is pleased to use 
hat bread : so, the spiritual bread of the word only nourishes 
vhen he gives the word for it to do so ; but still he uses that 
piritual bread, when he wills to nourish. 



PART in. add those wonted similes and consequences of 

Reason ; as, that commandments are given in vain ; 

that reward is promised in vain; that threaten- 
ings are held forth in vain ; except there be 
Freewill : if any thing be proved by these argu 
ments, I say, it is that Freewill can of herself do 
every thing. For, if she cannot do every thing for 
herself, that consequence of reason retains its 
place ; therefore it is vain to command, it is 
vain to promise, it is vain to hold out threaten- 
ings/ Thus is Diatribe continually disputing 
against herself, whilst opposing me. The truth 
meanwhile is, that God alone worketh both 
merit and reward in us, by his Spirit; but he 
announces and declares each of these to the 
whole world, by his outward word ; in order that 
his own power and glory, and our impotency 
and ignominy, may be proclaimed even amongst 
the ungodly, the unbelieving, and the ignorant ; 
although none but the godly understand that 
word with the heart, and keep it faithfully ; the 
rest despising it. 
SEC. XL. And now, it would be too tiresome to repeat 

the several imperative verbs which Diatribe enu- 

Apoiop mera tes out of the New Testament ; alwavs ap- 

for not J r 

consider- pending her own consequences, pretending that 
ing ail his a }| these expressions are vain, superfluous, un- 
texts n sepa- meaning, absurd, ridiculous, nothing at all, ex- 
rateiy. ce pt the Will be free. I have already declared, to 
cavHfrom a high degree of nauseating repetition, what an 
Matt. absolute nothing is made out by such expressions 
as these ; which, if they prove any thing, prove 
an entire Freewill. Now, this is nothing else but 
a complete overturning of Diatribe; who under 
took to prove such a Freewill as can do nothing 
good, and serves sin ; but does really prove one 
which can do every thing : so ignorant and so for 
getful of her own self is she continually. They are 
mere cavils then, when she argues, ( ye shall know 
them by their fruits/ saith the Lord : by fruits, he 


means works. He calls these works ours: but SEC.XLI. 
they are not ours, if all things be performed by 

What! are not those possessions most rightly 
called ours, which we have not made ourselves, it 
is true, but have received from others ? Why 
should not those works then be called ours, which 
God hath given to us by the Spirit? Shall we 
not call Christ ours, because we have not made 
him, but only received him? On the other hand, 
if we make all those things which are called 
ours, why then we have made our own eyes for 
ourselves, we have made our own hands for 
ourselves, we have made our own feet for our- 
vselves; unless we are forbidden to call our eyes, 
hands, and feet ours ! Nay, what have we, which 
we have not received ; as Paul says ? Shall we 
then say, that these possessions are either not 
ours, or they have been made by our ownselves ? 
But let be now, let be that these fruits are called 
ours, because we have produced them ; what 
then becomes of grace and the Spirit ? For he 
does not say, f by their fruits, which are in some 
very small degree and portion theirs, ye shall 
know them/ 5 These, rather, are the ridiculous, 
the superfluous, the vain, the unmeaning sayings 
nay, a parcel of foolish and odious cavils, by which 
the sacred words of God are polluted and profaned. 

Thus too, that saying of Christ upon the cross 
s sported with; 1 "Father, forgive them; for they 34 -] s 
viiow not what they do." (Here, when you would not /or 
expect a sentence attaching" Freewill to the Freewill. 

s Erasmus argues, it is necessary to their being called 

ours, that they be done by our own natural powers. Then they 

re wJiollij done by cur natural powers j for he calls them ours, 

vithout addition or subtraction. Then there is no Spirit and 

, -race in our good works. Another of the nimis probats. 

1 Luditur.~] Ludo se, dclectationis causa, exercere. I do 
ot know any classical authority for this passive form of the 
erb ludo. Verbum, &c. hiditur. 

u Astrueret.~\ Juxta struo, prope extruo : not super- 
ructurc/ but additional or contiguous structure. It is the 



PART in. testimony adduced, she betakes herself again to her 

consequences.) ( How much more justly, says 

she, would he have excused them by saying that 
they were those who had not a free will, and 
could not, if they would, do otherwise! And yet, 
that sort of Freewill which can will nothing good, 
though it be the one in question, is not proved by 
this consequence ; but that sort of Freewill which 
can do every thing ; which no one contends for, 
and which all deny, except the Pelagians. But 
now, when Christ expressly says that they know 
not what they do, does he not at the same time 
testify, that they cannot will good ? For, how can 
you will what you do not know ? There can be 
no desire, surely, for an unknown thing. What 
can be more stoutly affirmed against Freewill, 
than that it is in itself such a perfect nullity, as 
not only to be incapable of willing good, but even 
of knowing how much evil it is doing, and what 
good is. Is there any obscurity in any word 
here ? (< They know not what they do." What 
is there remaining in Scripture, which may not, 
by the suggestion of Diatribe, prove Freewill, 
when this most clear and most adversative saying 
of Christ is to her an affirmation of it? A man 
might just as easily say, that Freewill is proved 
by that saying, " The earth was empty v and 
void;" or by that, " God rested on the seventh 
day :" and the like. Then will the Scriptures be 
ambiguous and obscure indeed ! nay, they will 
mean all things, and mean nothing, in the same 
moment. But such audacious handling of the 
word of God argues a mind signally contemptuous 
both towards God and towards man ; which de 
serves no patience at all." 

flying off from the proof alleged, in pursuit of something more 
remote ; to which Luther here objects. 

v Inanis. ] We say, without form ; but Luther has it 
without substance ; having nothing in it, or upon it. 

x Luther answers, 1. ft is inference. 2. The text is against 
you. 3. Such use of Scripture is criminal. 


So again, that saying- in John i. " To them SC.XLIL 

gave he power to become the sons of God/ she ; 

takes in this wise : How can power be given to j^" f oi ! 2 
them, that they should become the sons of God, grace. 
if there be no liberty in our will ? 

This passage, also, is a cudgel y for Freewill 
such as nearly all the Gospel of John is but 
adduced in support of it. See, I pray you, John 
is not speaking of any work of man s, whether 
great or small ; but of the actual renewal and 
transmutation of the old man, who is a son of 
the devil, into the new man; who is a son of God. 
This man is simply passive (as they speak), and 
does nothing, but is altogether a thing made. For 
John speaks of his being made : " to be made the 
sons of God," he says; by a power freely given to 
us of God, not by a power of Freewill which is 
natural to us. z 

But our Diatribe infers from hence, that Free 
will is of such power, as to make sons of God ; 
prepared else to determine, that this saying of 
John is ridiculous and unmeaning. But who has 
ever extolled Freewill to such a height, as to 
give it the power of making sons of God; espe 
cially such a Freewill, as can will nothing good ; 
the one, which Diatribe has taken up to prove. a 
But let this pass with the rest of those conse 
quences, so o.teii repeated; by which, if any thing 
is proved, it is nothing else, but what Diatribe 
denies ; namely, that Freewill can do every thing. 
What John means is this : that, by Christ s 
coming into the world, a power is given to all 
men, through the Gospel (that Gospel by which 
sprace is offered, and not work demanded), which 

y Malleus. ] More properly, a mallet ; fabrile instrumen- 
um ad tundendum. 

z Ft insitd.~] Ins. properly, what is inserted as a graft ; but 
ransferred to signify what is natural, innate, inherent. Na- 
ivus, innatus, ingenitus. 

a Assumsit.~\ Scil. ad probandum. What he elsewhere ex* 
resses by probandum suscepit. 


PART in. is magnificent in the extreme ; even that of 
becoming the sons of God, if they be willing to 
believe ! But this being willing, this believing in 
his name, as it is a thing which Freewill never 
knew, never thought of before ; so is it a thing, 
which she is yet much further from being able to 
attain to, by her own powers. Forhowshoald 
reason imagine that faith in Jesus, the son of God 
and of man, is necessary ; when she does not 
even at this day comprehend, nor can believe, 
even though the whole creation should as with an 
audible voice proclaim it, that there exists a 
person, which is at the same time both God and 
man. On the contrary, she is the more offended 
by such preaching ; as Paul testifies in 1 Cor. i. 
so far is she, from being either willing or able to 
believe. b 

John, therefore, proclaims those riches of the 
kingdom of God which are offered to the world 
by the Gospel, not the virtues of Freewill : inti 
mating at the same time, how few there are that 
receive them ; because Freewill, forsooth, resists 
the proposal, her power being nothing else, 
through the dominion which Satan has over her, 
but even to spurn the offer of grace, and of 

b We have here Luther s usual, exceptionable expression 
about ( offers. (See Sect, xxiii. note a ) ; and his mention of 
the person of Christ suggests over again the importance of the 
distinction which I remarked in Part ii. Sect. viii. note r . If we do 
not keep the divine and the human person of Christ distinct, but 
regard him simply as a person who has put another nature, the 
human nature, upon his former and eternal, divine nature ; his 
whole history and the things said of him are a Babel : not so; 
if Ave be brought to apprehend him as the co-equal of th 
Father and of the Holy Ghost acting in and by a human persoi 
which he has taken up into union with himself. The texi 
evidently proves nothing for Freewill : it only says " as man] 
as received him;" without saying by what power; Avhethe 
natural or supernatural. I do not agree with Luther, in it 
being the making of the old man into the new man : it is thi 
state of privilege and glory, into which the sen of Adam ani 
child of the devil has been brought, by that preceding process o 


that Spirit c which would fulfil the law. So ex- SC.XLIII. 

quisite is the force of her desire and endeavour to 

fulfil the law ! But, hereafter, I shall shew more 
at large, what a thunderbolt this text of John s is 
against Freewill. Meanwhile, I am not a little 
indignant, that passages so clear in their mean 
ing and so powerful in their opposition to Freewill, 
should be cited by Diatribe in her favour : whose 
dulness is such, that she discovers no difference 
between law words and words of promise; for, 
having first of all established Freewill, most ri 
diculously, by law testimonies, she afterwards 
reaches the highest height of absurdity/ by con 
firming it with words of promise. This absurdity, 
however, is easily explained, by considering with 
what an averse and contemptuous mind Diatribe 
engages in the discussion. To her it is no matter, 
whether grace stand or fall; whether Freewill be 
laid prostrate or maintain her seat; if she may but 
prove herself the humble servant of a conclave of 
tyrants, by tittering a number of vain words to 
excite disgust against our cause. 

After this we come to Paul also, the most Objections 
determined enemy to Freewill, who is never- froin 
theless compelled to establish Freewill by what 
he says in Rom. ii. " Or despisest thou the ed - 
riches of his goodness and patience and long- 
suffering ? or knowest thou not that his goodness 
leadeth thee to repentance?" How can it be, 
that contempt of the commandment is imputed, 
where the will is not free ? How can it be, that 
God invites to repentance, when he is the author 
of impenitence ? How can it be, that damnation 

c See note * upon note f , Sect, xxxvi. 

d Ineptissimt longe absurdissime. ] Inept. The weaker term ; 
denoting properly, unaptness/ impertinence/ silliness -. absurd. 
the extreme of incongruity and extravagance. lueptus est 
tantum non aptus ; absurdus, repugnans, abhorrens : itaque 
absurdus majUs quiddam. significat ; velut qui surdis auribus 
audiri dignus est. 


PART in. is just, when the judge constrains to the crime? 6 
I answer, let Diatribe look to these questions. 
What are they to me ? She has told us, in her 
approvable opinion, that Freewill cannot will 
good, and compels us necessarily into the service 
of sin. How is it then, that contempt of the com 
mandment is imputed to her; if she cannot will 
good, and if she have no liberty, but be under a 
necessary bondage to sin ? How is it, that God 
invites to repentance, when he is the author of 
man s not repenting ; in that he deserts, or does 
not confer grace upon him, when, being left alone, 
he cannot will good? How is it, that the damna 
tion is just, where the judge, by withdrawing his 
help, makes it unavoidable that the ungodly man 
be left to do wickedly ; since, by his own power, 
he can do nothing else ? All these sayings recoil 
upon the head of Diatribe : or, if they prove any 
thing, prove (what I have said) that Freewill can 
do every thing ; in contradiction to what she has 
said herself, and every body else. These conse 
quences of reason annoy Diatribe, throughout all 
her Scripture quotations. It is ridiculous and 
unmeaning, forsooth, to attack and exact/ in such 
vehement language, when there is not one present 
w ho can fulfil the demand ? The Apostle, all the 
while, has it for his object to lead ungodly and 
proud men to the knowledge of themselves and of 
their own impotency, by the means of these threat- 
enings ; that, having humbled them by the know 
ledge of sin, he may prepare them for grace. 5 

e Referring, no doubt, to Rom. iii. 5 8. 

f Invadere et exigere. ] Inv. expresses the assault upon the 
person: in aliquem locum vaclo; ingredior (et fere cum 
aliquavi, aut impetu), aggredior, irrunipo, irruo. Exig. extra 
ago j educo. Sa^pe est reposcere, flagitare, in re pecuniaria : 
itemque, exigendo obtinere. The figure is that of a bailiff 
seizing a man s person and demanding payment of a debt. 

s It is not necessary to suppose this ulterior design, neither 
will it extend to all the cases which the Apostle had in view ; 
though such effect is frequently produced by the instrurnen- 


And why need I recount, one by one, all the SC.XLIV. 

texts which are adduced from Paul s writings ; 

when she does but collect a number of imperative iVlckll f s 

r confession 

or conjunctive verbs, or such expressions as Paul confessed, 
uses in exhorting Christians to the fruits of faith? h 
Diatribe however, by adding her own conse 
quences, imagines to herself a Freewill of such 
and so great virtue, that, without grace, it can 
do every thing which Paul the exliorter pre 
scribes ? Christians, however, are not led by 
Freewill, but by the Spirit of God. (Rom. viii. 14.) 
Now, to be led is not to lead ourselves, but to be 
driven along, just as the saw or the hatchet k is 
driven along by the carpenter. And here, least 
any one should doubt Luther s having said such 
absurd things, Diatribe recites his words : which I 
deliberately own; avowing, as I do, 1 that WicklifPs 

tality of these Scriptures. Such appeals are amongst the strong 
manifesters of what is in man ; in him as what he has made 
himself, not as what God made him ; in him, therefore, without 
excuse. By such manifesters, God, as his pleasure is, both 
hardeneth and converteth. In chap. ii. it is an exposure of the 
heart of the Jew as boasting himself against the heathen ; in 
chap iii. it is the infidel disporting himself against the truth : 
whose damnation is shewn to be just by the language which he 
uses ; the language of a heart, which has made itself vile. 

h See Sect, xxxvi. note f Gospel precepts, whether from the 
Lord s mouth, or Paul s pen, are words to the Lord s called 
only ; shewing how the saved should walk : that we, having been 
delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him 
without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the 
days of our life. (Luke i. 74, 75.) 

Condpit. ] < Translate ponitur pro efformare., compre- 
hendere, intelligere ; forms an idea. 

k I cannot think Luther very happy in this illustration : the 
hatchet and the saw have no choice in the hand of the carpenter ; 
but we are led freely, delightingly . 

1 QUCE sane agnosco. Fateor enim.~\ Qn. sa. ag. expresses 
the perfect self-possession and consciousness with which he 
acknowledges the words as his. Sane. Sana mente aut 
sensu, ubi nihil fuci aut fraudis est. But it is not honesty and 
simplicity, so much as calmness, sobriety and stedfastness of 
judgment, that he claims for himself, in the recognition and 
restatement of what he had advanced. Fateor enim implies 
avowal made under circumstances which might tempt to the 


PART in. article ( all things are done by necessity ; that 

is, by the unchangeable will of God ; i and our 

will, though not compelled indeed to do evil, is 
incapable of doing any good by its own power 1 ") 

suppression of it. His adversaries were the persons to make 
confession of the evil at Constance, not he .- on his part, it was 
proclamation of accordant, not antagonistic, sentiment ; but 
still, it was testimony borne in adversity borne, as with a 
halter round his neck. 

" Mors sola fatetur 
" Quantula sint liominum corpuscula." Jt V. x. 171, 2. 

Death testifies ; but it is, as an unwilling and compelled witness : 
she would rather boast of her prey, than proclaim its littleness. 
m This splendid paradox of Wickliff s has been brought into 
discussion already (see Part ii Sect, xxii.), and is the very essence 
of divine truth, though so offensive to the enemies of truth, and 
of many who account themselves its advocates. Wickliff, with 
all his blemishes, was a truly great man ; enlightened to see 
and teach much of the mystery of God ; more, I am ready to 
say, than many that came after him and carried off his palm. 
Most of these acknowledged his worth indeed : for more than 
a century, those who had light did not disdain to acknowledge 
that they walked in his light ; such as the Lollards, Huss, 
Jerome, and others. Erasmus gives him to Luther ; and 
Luther is not ashamed to receive and confess him. Certainly, 
my friend the Dean has not done him justice ; yet he tried, 
I admit, and meant to do it him. But this necessity, was what 
the Dean did not thoroughly relish, though he tolerated it : 
and so he apologized, where Wickliff himself would have 
gloried ; and when he professes to give a brief sketch of his 
doctrines as extracted from his writings and other authentic 
documents, whilst he admits that his distinguishing tenet was, 
tindoubtedly, the election of grace, he does not tell us what he 
held about it, nor even mention this paradox, which seems to 
have been considered as the centre and heart s core of his 
creed. The Dean appears to have attached too much import 
ance to Melancthon s judgment, who was so warped by the Sacra- 
mentarian Controversy, in which WicklifFs name was drawn out 
against the Lutherans, that he went to a great extreme in deny 
ing Wickliff s light ; declaring that he had found in him, also, 
many other errors (beside this on the sacrament), and that 
he neither understood nor believed the righteousness of faith. 
I admit that he had much darkness mingled with his light ; 
confusion with his clearness ; pusillanimity with his boldness ; 
sophistry with his plainness ; rashness with his honest zeal for 
reform. But I am rather inclined to measure a man by what 
he has of good, than by what he has also of evil ; and when I 
see Wickliff acknowledged as the first open champion and 


was falsely condemned by the Council of Con- SC.XLIV. 

stance ; n or rather by conspiracy and sedition. 

Nay, even Diatribe herself defends him, in con 
junction with me ; asserting, as she does, that 
Freewill can will nothing good by its own powers, 
and serves sin necessarily ; though, in the course 
of her proof, she establishes the direct contrary. 

declarer against the abominations of Antichrist ; when I read 
such profound and luminous testimonies to the " hidden wis 
dom " in his writings ; when I hear martyrs calling him their 
apostle, and a Cobham solemnly professing before God and man 
that he never abstained from sin till he knew Wickliff but that 
after he became acquainted with that virtuous man and his de 
spised doctrines it had been otherwise with him ; when I recollect, 
that he was the first who gave the Bible to our nation in English, 
and vindicated the right of the common people to read it 5 
when I find the more determined of the reformers of the six 
teenth century owning him as their forerunner, and their 
revilers casting him in their teeth : I am ashamed to ask what 
doctrine he held about tithes ; to doubt his sincerity, because 
his circumstances drew him into an undesirable degree of mix 
ture with carnal statesmen ; to weigh the words which he 
dropped, in the hour of the power of darkness, in a pair of 
scales j and to rejoice in finding evidence, as the result of 
much pious search, that this celebrated champion did belong 
to the church of Christ. Huss in the flames, and the Swift 
receiving his unintombed ashes, shall be my witnesses that he 
spake by the Holy Ghost. 

n We have heard of the Council of Constance already (see 
Part ii. Sect. viii. note v ); it was numerous, turbulent, and long : 
it put down three Popes, and erected one ; raved about reform, 
and confirmed sword-preaching ;* condemned a dead saint, and 
burnt two living ones ; denied necessity, made a Sigismurid 
blush, and did one good thing amidst all these bad ones, by 
setting Councils above Popes. 

* Outrages of the Teutonic knights in Poland and Prussia ; where they 
obtained a professed subjection to the Gospel by fire and sword ! 





Erasmus has but two Texts to kill. 

LET what has been said suffice in answer to 
Diatribe s first part, in which she endeavours to 
establish the reality of Freewill ; and let us now 
consider her second part, in which she seeks to 
confute the testimonies on our side of the ques 
tion : those, I mean, by which its existence is 
negatived. You will see here what a man-raised 
smoke is, when opposed to God s thunders and 
lightnings ! 

First then, after having recited innumerable 
texts of Scripture in support of Freewill, as a 
sort of army too dreadful to encounter (that she 
may give courage to the confessors and martyrs, 
and all the holy men and women who stand up 
for Freewill ; and may inspire fear and trembling 
into all who are guilty of the sin of denying it) ; 
she pretends that the host which comes to oppose 
Freewill is contemptible in point of numbers, and 
goes on to represent that there are but two pas 
sages which stand conspicuous above the rest on 
this side of the argument : having nothing in her 
mind, as it should seem, but slaughter, and making 
sure of accomplishing it without much trouble. 
One of these is from Exod. ix. " The Lord har 
dened Pharaoh s heart :" the other is from Ma- 
lachi i. " Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I 


hated." Strange, what an odious and unprofitable SECT. n. 

discussion Paul did take up, in the judgment of 

Diatribe, when he expounded both these at large 
to the Romans ! In short, if the Holy Ghost 
were not a little knowing in rhetoric, there would 
be danger lest his heart should melt within him, 
through this great reach of art in pretending such 
vast contempt ; and, lest absolutely despairing of 
his cause, he should yield the palm to Freewill, 
before the trumpet has called the champions into 
the lists. Presently, however, I shall come up 
as the reserve a to these two Scriptures, and shew 
my forces also : and yet, where such is the fortune 
of the battle, that one man puts ten thousand to 
flight, what need is there of forces ? If one text 
of Scripture shall have conquered Freewill, her 
innumerable forces will be of no use to her. 

Here therefore Diatribe has discovered a new Kills by 
method of eluding the plainest texts, by choosing resolving 
to understand a trope in the simplest and clearest tropesT 
forms of speech. As, in the former instance, when whi ch he 
pleading for Freewill, she eluded" the force of all Set s^ 
the imperative and conjunctive law words by example, 
adding inferences, and superadding similies of her 
own invention; c so now, on her setting out to plead 

a Succenturiatus. ] Succenturiati dicuntur, qui explendse cen- 
tviria; gratia subjiciunt se ad suppleiuentum ordinnm. Luther 
would consider himself as the leader of an army of reserve ; 
though such army would be unnecessary, since the two inva 
lidated texts would keep their ground. Pugnce for tuna. Luther 
speaks here, more Ethnicorum; who, it is well known, 
ascribed every thing to Fortune, erecting temples and altars to 
her, and accounting Fortunatus ( favoured of fortune ) the 
most illustrioiis title they could ascribe to their generals. But 
Luther well knew the God of battles ; nor meant to ascribe 
their issue to any other than Him ; " even the Lord strong 
and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle !" 

b Elusit.~\ It was evading the natural and legitimate inter 
pretation of those words, when she practised with them so as to 
pass them off for assertives. 

c ddjectas. fiffictas. ] Adj. addere/ adjungcre : afficl. sscpius 
estjingendo addere, 


PART iv. against us, she turns and twists all words of 
divine promise and affirmation just which way she 
pleases, by discovering- a trope in them : that 
Proteus may be alike inapprehensible on both 
sides. d Nay, she demands this for herself with 
great superciliousness at our hands ; because we, 
as she pretends, are wont also ourselves to make 
our escape from the pursuer, when hard pressed, 6 
by discovering tropes. In that passage, for in 
stance, ( Stretch out thine hand to whichsoever 
thou wilt ; that is, l grace shall stretch out thy 
hand to whichsoever she wills. Make you a 
new heart ; that is, ( grace shall make you a new 
heart: and the like/ It seems a great shame 
then, if Luther may have leave to introduce so 
violent and forced an interpretation ; but we may 
not so much as be allowed to follow the interpreta 
tions of the most approved doctors. You see 
then, that our dispute here is not about the text, 
as it is in itself; 8 nor, as in former instances, 
about inferences and similies; but about tropes 

A UtrobiqueJ] In both parts of the discussion : the former, 
where Freewill is maintained ; the latter, where its opponents 
are repelled. Incomprehensibilis. Uncatchable 5 if there were 
such a word ! 

e Ubi urgemur, elabi.~\ Elab. The primary idea is that of 
the snake slipping out of the hand, or water gliding secretly 
from its source ; which is tranferred to silent escape from a 
pursuing enemy. Urgr. is the state of one driven along by the 
goad or spear, when he can advance no further. (See Part i. 
Sect. ix. note d .) In this state, says Erasmus, they cry out 
" trope," " trope ;" as a sort of new discovery which they have 

f Extende manum. Facile vobis. ] See above, Part iii. Sect. vi. 
Ezek. xviii. 31. 

s 2Vbra de textu ipso.~] Since it is not interpretation, must 
refer to genuineness. It is not, as the question was about 
Eccle us . xv. where the authority of the book quoted is doubtful ; 
or other texts which might be named, where the soundness of 
some particular verse or word might be disputed, though the 
book were authorized ; but whether the acknowledged text is 
to be understood tropically, and whether certain proposed 
interpretations be admissible. 


and interpretations. O when shall it be, as SEC. HI. 

some, will say, that we get a plain and pure 

text, 11 without inferences and tropes, for and 
against Freewill ? Has Scripture no such texts ? 
And shall the cause of Freewill be for ever an 
undecided one ? one, not settled by any sure 
text, but driven like a reed by the winds: be 
cause nothing is brought forwards in debating it, 
save a number of tropes and inferences, the produc 
tion of men quarrelling mutually with each other ? 

Let us rather judge, that neither inference, nor Trope and 
trope, ought to be admitted into any passage of c s *~ e 
Scripture, unless an evident context, and some when only 
absurdity, which offendeth against one of the to -^ d " 
articles of our faith, in the plain meaning/ con 
strain us to such interpretation and inference : on 
the contrary, that w r e ought every where to stick 
close to that simple, pure and natural sense of 
words, which both the art of grammar, and the 
common use of speech as God created it in man, 
direct us to. 1 For, if any man may, at his plea 
sure, invent inferences and tropes for Scripture; 
what will all Scripture be, but a reed shaken by 
the winds, or a sort of Vertumnus? Then it will 
indeed be true, that nothing certain can be 
affirmed or proved, as touching any article of 
faith ; since you may quibble it away by some pre 
tended trope." 1 Rather, let every trope be avoided, 

h Simplicem, purumque."] Simp. Free from figure. e Pur. 
f Free from human additions. 

1 Circumstantia verborum evidens. 

k Absurditas rei manifesto:. 

1 Quarn grammatical. . . . habetJ] Luther had no doubt whence 
the use of speech was derived to man (/te /3o?re? livQpwiroi} ; how 
ever some heathen, and demi-heathen, philosophers may have 
made it matter of speculation : even from him, who prompted 
its exercise when he brought the animals unto Adam to see 
what he would call them (Gen. ii. 19, 20) ; and who afterwards 
came down to confound that one language which he had given. 
(Gen. xi. 5 9.) 

111 Quod non queas allquo tropo cavillari. ] You have but to 
insinuate, that the texts brought to prove it are figurative, and 
do not mean what they seem. 


PART iv. as the most destructive poison, which Scripture 

herself does not compel us to receive. 

See what has befallen that great trope-master 
Origen, n in expounding the Scriptures ! What just 
occasion does he afford to the calumniating Por 
phyry ! insomuch, that even Jerome 15 thinks it of 

n Origen of Alexandria, the great father of mystical and 
allegorical interpretation, suffered martyrdom in the 69th year 
of his age, A. D. 254. There was much, no doubt, to condemn 
in him, but something also to commend. Whilst strangely 
defective in his perceptions of divine truth, he was learned, 
upright, disinterested, and laborious : a man of conscience and 
of magnanimity. Philosophy and literature Avere his bane. He 
did much mischief to the church by his style of interpreting 
Scripture, not only in rendering human fancies for a season 
fashionable, to the exclusion of plain truth j but, as a remote 
consequence, by bringing even the sober use of types and 
figures that pregnant source of lively and particularizing 
instruction into the contempt with which it has now for some 
ages been loaded. Two sentences of his are worthy to be pre 
served. On the words, " We conclude that a man is justified 
by faith" (Rom. iii.) he says, The justification of faith only, 
is sufficient ; so that, if any person only believe, he may be 
justified, though no good work hath been fulfilled by him. On 
the case of the penitent thief, he writes, He was justified by 
faith, without the works of the law 5 because, concerning 
these, the Lord did not inquire what he had done before j 
neither did he stay to ask what work he was purposing to per 
form after he had believed; but, the man being justified by his 
confession only, Jesus who was going to Paradise, took him as 
a companion and carried him there. His Hexapla furnished 
the first specimen of a Polyglot. 

Porphyry, a Platonic philosopher, who lived in the same 
century with Origen, made great use of his fanciful interpreta 
tions, in reviling Christianity. From the serious pains taken by 
the ancient Christians to confute him, it may be presumed that 
his works (which are now chiefly lost) were subtle and inge 
nious ; but his testimony, like that of most other infidels, has 
been made to redound to the establishment, instead of the 
subversion, of the Gospel. (See Chap. xxi. Cent. iii. of Milner s 
Ecc. Hist, where a remarkable assemblage of testimonies to 
this conclusion is skilfully adduced : and see, especially, vol. ii. 
of Fry s Second Advent, Avhere Gibbon is made the same sort 
of unintentional witness.) Porphyry censures Origen for 
leaving Gentilism, and embracing the barbarian temerity :* 
whereas Origen was, in fact, brought up under Christian j 
parents, and a man of Christian habits from his youth. He i 
compliments Origen upon his skill in philosophy, but ridicules 


little avail to defend Origen. What has come to SEC. in. 
the Arians, through that trope of theirs, by which - 
they make Christ a mere nuncupative God? 11 
What has come to these new prophets in our day, 
who, in expounding Christ s words, This is my 
body/ find a trope, one of them in the pronoun 
this; another in the verb is; a third in the 
noun body? 1 " It is the result of my observa- 

his introduction of it into the Scriptures ; which,, as this enemy 
justly teaches, abhor such an associate. 

p Jerome, the renowned monk of Stridon, in Pannonia, 
had a good deal of the spirit of Origen. Luther says, 
even Jerome : a man of prodigious learning, lively eloquence, 
and vigorous mind, but of small discernment in the truth; 
one taught of man, more than of God. He was born under 
Constantine, A. D. 331, the contemporary of Augustine, and his 
opponent ; ever, and all his days, a controversialist : peevish 
and vain ; self-righteous and superstitious ; but sincere and 
devout. To him the Romish church owes her Vulgate. In 
his very volunnnous expositions, he speaks at random : is alle 
gorical beyond all bounds, and almost always without accuracy 
and precision ; lowers the doctrine of illumination in 1 Cor. ii. 
to things moral and practical} hints at something like a first 
and second justification before God ; asserts predestination, and 
as it were retracts it ; owns a good will as from God in one 
place, in another supposes a power to choose to be the whole of 
divine grace ; never opposes fundamental truths deliberately, 
but though he owns them every where, always does so defec 
tively, and often inconsistently. It must be confessed, the 
reputation of this Father s knowledge and abilities has been 
much overrated. There is a splendour in a profusion of ill- 
digested learning, coloured by a lively imagination, which is 
often mistaken for sublimity of genius. This was Jerome s 
case ; but this was not the greatest part of the evil. His 
learned ignorance availed, more than any other cause, to give a 
celebrity to superstition in the Christian world, and to darken 
the light of the Gospel. Yet, when he was unruffled by con 
tradiction, and engaged in meditations unconnected with super 
stition, he could speak with Christian affection concerning the 
characters and offices of the Son of God. (See Miln. Eccl. 
Hist, vol ii. p. 481. 

i Deum nuncupativam."] A sort of titular God ; one called 

, but not really so. See above, Part ii. Sect. viii. note r . 

r Luther, as we all know, is not very sound here. His con- 
ubstantiation of the sacramental elements avoids a trope ; but 
he trope here falls in with his admitted exception, Scripture 
iierself compels us to receive it. The same portion of matter 
unnot be extended in two places at the same moment. The 



PART IV. tion, that, of all the heresies and errors which 

have arisen from false expositions of Scripture, 

none have proceeded from understanding words 
in that simple sense in which they are bandied 
amongst men almost all the world over ; but from 
neglecting their simple use, and affecting tropes or 
inferences which are the laboured offspring of 
their own brain. 

SECT. IV. For example ; I do not remember, that I have 

ever applied such a violent sort of interpretation 

Luther de- to the words Stretch out thine hand to which- 
uled h tropf soever thou wilt/ as to say, < Grace shall stretch 
in his in- out thine hand to whichsoever she wills/ 
Surf*" Make y u a new near t / that is, Grace shall 
"Stretch make you a new heart/ and the like: although 
out" and Diatribe traduces me, in a published treatise, as 
you." C having spoken thus. In fact, she is so distracted 

and beguiled 8 by her tropes and inferences, that 
she does not know what she says about any body. 
What I have really said is, when the words 
" stretch forth thy hand, Sec. &c." are taken 
simply according to their real import, exclusive of 

bread therefore, which the Lord held in his hand whilst insti 
tuting the ordinance, could not at the same instant be bread 
and hand ; or bread and body. The same is true of the cup : 
it must have been a distinct substance from the hand which 
held it ; and therefore could not be really the Lord s blood ; 
which could indeed only be drunk as poured out, and at the 
instant when He spake, was yet in his veins. Add to this, the 
simple but decisive illustration which was suggested tq 
Zuingle s mind in a dream, and which was so greatly blessed iiw 
the use he was afterwards led to make of it. You stupid man, 
why do not you answer him from the twelfth of Exodus, as it is 
there written, " It is the Lord s passover." Luther calls the 
Sacramentists promiscuously the new prophets : not very] 
ingenuously 5 for even Carolstadt disclaimed all connection with) 
the Celestial Prophets, as they were called whilst Zuingle ana 
(Ecolampadius, in whom the sinews of the contest were, afforded 
no pretence for such imputation. Miln. Eccles. Hist. vol. iv. 
chaps, vi. ix. pp. 772 810, 990, &c. 1127. 8. 

8 Distenta et illusa. ] Dist. Distractus, duplici cura occu- 
patus ; cui duo sirnul res, diversis partibus, curam injiciuBt. 
Rectiusa. distineo/ quam f distendo/ ducitur. 


opes and inferences, they express no more than SECT.IV. 
demand that we stretch out our hand : by which 
miand, is intimated to us what we ought to do; 
;cording to the nature of the imperative verb, as 
^plained by grammarians, and applied in common 

Diatribe, however, neglecting this simple use of 
.e verb and dragging in her tropes and infer- 
ices by force, interprets thus : " Stretch out 
ine hand;" that is, thou canst stretch out thine 
md by thine own power : " Make you a new 
>art ;" that is, c ye can make you a new heart. 
Believe in Christ;" that is, ye can believe/ 
hus, it is in her account the same thing whether 
ords be spoken imperatively, or indicatively ; if 
)t, she is prepared to represent Scripture as 
liculous and vain. Yet these interpretations, 
lich no scholar 1 can bear, may not be called 
olent and far-fetched/ when used by theologians ; 
it are to be welcomed, as those of the most 

proved doctors who have been received for 

es ! 

But it is very easy for Diatribe to allow of 
:>pes and to adopt them in this text : it is no 

itter to her, whether what is said be certain or 
i certain. Nay, her very object is to make every 
;ng uncertain; counselling as she does, that all 

1 Nulll grcimmaticoforcndfis. ] Gram. ad grammatical!! per- 
i:ns : but this term, it seems, was especially applied to those 
I 1 ,) interpreted classical writers ; sucli as Donatus, Festus, 
linius, Asconius and others ; not to teachers of grammar : 
Oaring from grammatista, which is sometimes used invi- 


, Ajf ectatas ] So, in the last section, affectatis proprio 
;;bro tropis : nimio, aut pravo, uffactu et studio cupitus, 
ly-situs. De re majore studio et cura conquisit& et elabo- 
Our Eng-lish term affected, opposed to natural, 
ies the same thing : what is factitious, and the result ot 
:t. It is not the design, wherewith, that is marked in 

e two passages, but the labour and search employed. 
Has. . . . probatissimorum sunt doctorum.] The sentence is 



PART iv. dogmas on Freewill should be left to themselve 

rather than investigated. It would have bee 

enough for her, therefore, to get rid of sayings li 
which she feels herself to be hard pressed, in ar 
w r ay she can. x But I who am in earnest and ni 
in sport, and who am in search of most indub 
table truth, for the establishing of the conscience 
of men must act very differently. For me, I sa 
it is not enough that you tell me, there may be\ 
trope here. The question is, whether there oiic/i 
to be, and must be a trope here. If you have n> 
shewn me, that there must necessarily be a trojf 
here; you have done nothing. Here stands tlj 
\vord of God, " I will harden Pharaoh s heart! 
If you tell me, it must be understood, or may \ 
understood, ( I will permit it to be hardened ; 
hear what you say, that it maybe so understood, 
hear that this trope is commonly used in popul 1 
discourse; just as, f l have ruined you; becaur 
I did not instantly correct you, when you we, 
going astray. But this is not the place for sut 
sort of proof. It is not the question, whether su 
a trope be in use. It is not the question, whethf 
a person might use it in this passage of Pauf 
writings. The question is, whether it would 
safe for him to use it, and certain that he used: 
rightly, in this place ; and whether Paul meant ] 
use it. We are not inquiring about anoth 
man s the reader s use of it but about Paul, 
the author s own use of it. 

What would you do with a conscience 
should question you in this way ? Lo, God t 
author of the book says, " I will harden Pharaot- 
heart." The meaning of the word harden* 
obvious and notorious. But a human reader te ; 
me, ( to harden, in this place, is to give occasi 1 
of hardening, inasmuch as the sinner is n 

x Utcunque amoliri dicta.] Arnol. dicr. prop, de iis < 
magno conatu et molimine dimoventur. 


istantly corrected/ With what authority, with SECT. v. 

hat design, with what necessity, is that natural 

eaning of the word so tortured for me ? What 
my interpreting reader be mistaken? Where 
it proved, that this torturing of the word ought 

> take place here ? It is dangerous, it is even 
upious, to torture the word of God without 
jcessity, and without authority. Will you next 
[tor this labouring little soul/ Ori^en thought 

o * o o 

? Or thus ; ( cease to pry into such matters, 

;eing they are curious and vain/ She will reply, 

Vfoses and Paul ought to have had this admoni- 

[)n given to them, before they wrote ; or rather, 

od himself. To what end do they distract us 

ith curious and vain sayings ? 

This wretched evasion of tropes, then, is of no Diatribe 

rvice to Diatribe; but we must keep strong- must , 

^ " Dl OVC DV 

>ld of our Proteus here, till he make us perfectly Scripture 
re that there is a trope in this identical passage. or miiaclc 

., , , fj that the 

ther by the clearest scripture proofs, or by very pas . 

ident miracles. We do not give the least be- sage in 

fto her mere thinking so, though it be backed 

the toil and sweat of all ages. 2 But I go fur- 

er, and insist that there can be no trope here, 

t that this saying of God must be understood 

its simplicity, according to the literal meaning 

the words. For it is not left to our own will 

! make, and re-make, words for God as we please : 

e what would be left in all Scripture, which 

A)ilmu1(E.~] We are reminded of the Emperor Adrian s 
jiimula vagula blnndula. Anim. vel dontemptus, vel blanditiaj 
i!sa. Here, it implies tenderness: a weakling soul, ten- 
j;y felt for, by the Lord and by his messengers. 

Industrid conscntienteJ] Indttst. Vis ingenii qua (mippium 

> igitamus, et adipiscimur. Itaque su]>ra naturam et ingenium 

< it studium, et artem, et laborem. He refers to the affec- 
ft,i tropis and afFectatas interpretationes, which he repre- 

< led in the last section. There was much of scholastic art 
n cloistered industry in them ; but he must have light from 

< - en the Holy Ghost s testimony either in the word, or in 
h e palpable, new-wrought miracle before he would be satis- 
leithat there is a trope in these words. 


PART iv. does not just come back to Anaxagoras s phil- 

; sophy, a Make what you please of any thiiu 

Suppose I should say, " God created the heaveij 
and the earth ;" that is., he set them in order ; bj 
he did not make them out of nothing/ Or, Tr\ 
created the heavens and the earth; that is, tl 
angels and the devils, or the righteous and tl 
wicked. Upon this principle, a man has but 
open the book of God, and by and by he is 
theologian. b Let it be a settled and fixed pri 
ciple then, that, when Diatribe cannot prove th 
there is a trope in these passages of ours whi< 
she is refuting, she be obliged to concede 
us, that the words must be understood accordii 
to their literal import; even though she shou 
prove that the same trope is of most frequent u 
elsewhere, both in all parts of Scripture and 
common discourse. If this principle be atlmitte 
all our testimonies which Diatribe meant to co 
fute, have been defended at once ; and her co 
futation is found to have effected absolutely n 
thing, to have no power, to be a mere nothing. 
When she interprets that saying of Most 
therefore, " I will harden Pharaoh s heart," ( 
mean My lenity in bearing with a sinner, lead 
others, it is true, to repentance, but it shall rend 
Pharaoh more obstinate in his wickedness; th: 
is a pretty saying, but there is no proof that 

a Anaxagoras, a philosopher of Clazomenae, the preceptor t| 
Socrates, amongst many other paradoxes, is said to have insiste 
that snow was black, because made of water. 

b Quis non. . . . Theologus.~\ If a man s own whimsies, withoi 
search or proof, are to be protruded as doctrines and interpret? 
tions of Scripture ; we have but to open the book and consult ot 
fancy, and straightway we may dub ourselves divines. 

c Quos diluitJ] Dil. properly lavando aufero, as the wate 
washes the sides of the canal, or the heavy rain washes away th 
labours of the husbandman : hence transferred to the remove 
of filth from any substance ; and particularly, in a forensi 
sense, to the purging of a charge. Diluere crimen est purgare 
refellere, criminibus respondendo et accusationes refutando 
Si nollem ita diluere crimen,, ut dilui. Cic. pro Milon. 


ought to speak so ; and we, not content with a SECT. v. 
mere l ipse dixit, demand proof. " 

So she interprets that saying 1 of Paul s plau 
sibly ; " He hath mercy on whom he will have 
mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth ;" that is, 
e God hardeneth, when he doth not instantly chas 
tise the sinner ; he hath mercy, when he presently 
inviteth to repentance, by afflictions. But what 
proof is there of this interpretation? 

So that of Isaiah, " Thou hast made us to err 
from thy ways, thou hast hardened our heart from 
thy fear." d What if Jerome, following Origen, 
interpret thus; ( The man is said to seduce who 
does not straightway call back from error. Who 
shall assure us that Jerome and Origen interpret 
this passage rightly ? And what if they do ? It 
is our compact, that we will contest the matter 
not on the ground of any human teacher s autho 
rity, but on that of Scripture only. Who are 
these Origens and Jeromes then, which Diatribe, 
forgetting her solemn covenant, throws in my 
teeth? when as, of the ecclesiastical writers, there 
be none almost, who have handled the Scriptures 
more foolishly . and more absurdly, than Origen 
and Jerome. 

In a word, such a licentiousness of interpreta 
tion comes to this ; by a new and unheard of sort 
of grammar all distinctions are confounded: so that, 
when God says, " I will harden Pharaoh s heart," 
you change persons and understand him to say, 
Pharaoh hardens himself through my lenity/ 
( God hardens our heart; that is, we harden our 
own hearts, through God s deferring to punish 
us. <e Thou, O Lord, hast made us to err;" that 
is, we have made ourselves to err, through thy 
not chastising us. So, God s having mercy,* 
no longer signifies his giving grace, or 6 exer- 

d Isaiah Ixiii. 17. Our authorized version reads it as a ques 
tion, " O Lord, why hast-thou made us to err, &c." 


PART iv. cising compassion/ forgiving sin/ ( justifying/ 
or ( delivering from evil / but, on the contrary, 
his inflicting evil and punishing. 

You will at last make it out by these tropes, 
that God had pity on the children of Israel, when 
he carried them away into Assyria and to Ba 
bylon : for there it was that he chastised his 
offenders, there it was that he invited them to re 
pentance by afflictions. On the other hand, when 
he brought them back and gave them deliverance, 
he did not pity but harden them ; that is, by his 
lenity and pity, he gave occasion to their being 
hardened. Thus, the sending of Christ the Sa 
viour into the world, shall not be called an act of 
mercy in God, but an act of hardening; since by 
this mercy he hath given men occasion to harden 
themselves. On the other hand, in having laid 
Jerusalem waste, and destroyed 6 the Jews unto 
this very day, he shows mercy towards them ; 
inasmuch as he chastises them for their sin, and 
invites them to repentance. In carrying his saints 
to heaven at the day of .judgment, he will not 
perform an act of mercy but of induration : inas 
much as he will give them an opportunity of 
abusing his goodness. In thrusting the wicked 
into hell ; herein, he will shew mercy, because it 
will be chastising the sinner. Who ever heard, 
pray, of such compassions and such wraths of God 
as these ? 

What, if good men are made better by the for- 

Perdidit.~\ f A7ro\\vu), awo/JaXXw, destruo, everto, depcrdo, 
Si vocem spectes, est a per et do ; si notionem, a Tre.pOw, vasto, 
esse videtur. There is a miraculous peculiarity in Israel s case, 
as a nation : perishing, he does not perish ; destroyed, he still is 
preserved. I had therefore hesitated to render perd. according to 
its natural and proper meaning ; and was disposed to adopt give 
up, abandon/ cast off, or scatter ; which would not, it 
seems, have been incongruous with its essential meaning. But 
why should Luther have used this term in preference to the 
others ; and has not their dispersion been in fact their destruc 
tion, as a state, city, and nation 9 


bearance, as well as by the severity of God ; still, SECT. v. 
when we speak of good and bad men promis 
cuously, these tropes will make the mercy of God 
wrath, and his wrath mercy, by a most perverse 
use of speech : since they call it wrath, when God 
is conferring benefits ; and pity, when he is in 
flicting judgments. Now, if God shall be said 
to harden, when he is conferring benefits and 
bearing with evil; f and shall be said to have 
mercy, when he is afflicting and chastising; why 
is he said to have hardened Pharaoh rather than 
the children of Israel, or even the whole world? 
Did he not confer benefits upon the children of 
Israel ? does he not confer benefits upon the 
whole world ? does he not bear with the wicked? 
does he not send his rain upon the evil and upon 
the good? Why is he said to have had com 
passion on the children of Israel, rather than upon 
Pharaoh ? Did he not afflict the children of 
Israel, in Egypt and in the desert? 8 I grant that 
some abuse, and others rightly use, God s wrath 
and goodness. But you define hardening to be 
God s indulging the wicked with forbearance 
and kindness; * God s having compassion to be* 
that he does not indulge, but visits and cuts 
short. So far as God is concerned therefore, he 
does but harden by perpetual kindness ; he does 
but shew mercy by perpetual severity. 11 

1 Benefadt. tolerat.~\ Benef. " heapeth his benefits ;" tol. 
" endureth with much long-suffering." 

s If God hardens by conferring benefits, why is he said to 
have hardened Pharaoh rather than the children of Israel ? If 
God shews mercy by afflicting, why is he said to have had 
mercy on Israel in afflicting him, and not on Pharaoh ? 

h Luther admits that there is a different effect produced in 
different characters ; the good profit by both good and evil ; 
some use, and others abuse, both kindness and wrath. But 
the question here is, what character shall we assign to God s 
dispensations of judgment and of mercy as falling generally 
upon men ; xipon good and evil intermixed : cum simul de bonis 
et mails loquimur ? The result will be, God s mercy is anger; 
and his anger, mercy. The truth is, God does harden by 


PART iv. But this is the best of all, that, God is said 

to harden, when he indulges sinners with for- 

SECT. vi. b earance . anc [ to pity, when he visits and afflicts, 
T inviting to repentance bv severity. What did 

Erasmus . J J 

trope trod oinit, pray, in the way of afflicting, cnas- 
makes tishig, calling Pharaoh to repentance? Do we 
of Moses, n t number ten plagues, as inflicted in that land? 
and leaves If your definition stands good ; that, f to have 
tied. ^ niercy is straightway to chastise and call the 
sinner ; assuredly, God had mercy upon Pharaoh. 
Why then does not God say, I will have mercy 
upon Pharaoh, instead of saying I will harden 
Pharaoh s heart? For, when he is in the very 
act of pitying him ; that is, as you will have it, 
of afflicting and chastising him ; he says, I will 
harden him ; that is, as you will have it, ( I will 
do him good, and will bear with him : what can 
be more monstrous to hear, than this ? What has 
now become of your tropes, your Origen, your 
Jerome, and your most approved doctors ; whom 
the solitary individual, Luther, is rash enough to 
contradict? But it is the foolishness of the flesh 
which compels you to speak thus ; sporting as 
she does with the words of God, which she cannot 
believe to have been spoken in earnest. 

The text itself therefore, as written by Moses, 
proves incontrovertibly, that these tropes are 
mere inventions, and of no worth in this place ; 
and that something very different and far greater 
over and above the bestowal of benefits, together 
with affliction and correction is meant by the 
words, "I will harden Pharaoh s heart:" since 
we cannot deny that both these expedients were 
tried in Pharaoh s case, with the greatest care 

mercies as Veil as judgments ; and does soften by judgments, 
as well as mercies : but both the hardening and the softening 
are distinct from the dispensations which arc made the instru 
ment of producing them. It is a variety in the spirit which 
meets with them, and upon which they act, which causes 
variety J.n the result. 


and pains. For what wrath and correction could SEC. vil. 

be more urgent, than that which he was called to 

endure, whilst stricken with so many signs and 
plagues, that even Moses himself testifies the 
like were never seen! Nay, even Pharaoh him 
self was moved by them more than once, as though 
he repented : albeit, not moved to purpose, nor 
abidingly. At the same time, what forbearance 
and kindness could be more abundant, than that 
which so readily took away his plagues, so often 
forgave his sin, k so often restored his blessings, so 
often removed his calamities ? Each sort of dis 
pensation, however, is unavailing ; the Lord still 
says, I will harden Pharaoh s heart/ You see 
then, that even though your hardening and your 
mercy (that is> your glosses and tropes) should 
be admitted in their highest degree, use, and 
exemplification such as they are exhibited 
to us in Pharaoh there still remains an act of 
hardening; and the hardening of which Moses 
speaks must be of one sort, and what you are 
dreaming of, another. 

But since I am fighting with men of fiction Necessity 
and with ghosts, let me also be allowed to con- sti1 . 1 re - 

i . . i i , mams, and 

jure up my ghost and imagine, what is im- you donot 
possible, that the trope which Diatribe sees in dear God. 
her dream is really used in this passage ; that 
I may see how she evades the being compelled 
to affirm, that we do every thing by God s alone 
will, and by a necessity that is laid upon us ; 
as also, how she will excuse God from being him 
self the author 1 and blameworthy cause of our 
induration. If it be true, that God is said to 

Permovetur. ] Valde movetur : what goes through the 
substance, and disturbs it throughout ; not merely stirs the 
surface and margin. 

k Remittit peccatum.~] So far as withdrawing present judg 
ment may be taken as a sign of forgiveness : but was his sin 
blotted out ? any one of the sins which had instrumeatally 
provoked the visitation ? 

1 Autor et culpa. 


PART iv. harden us, when he bears with us through an ex- 
" ercise of his lenity,, and does not forthwith punish 
us ; each of the two following principles still 
remains. First, man does nevertheless necessa- 
sarily serve sin. For, when it has been granted 
that Freewill can not will any thing good (and 
such a sort of Freewill is what Diatribe has under 
taken to prove), it is made no better by the for 
bearance of a long-suffering God, but is necessarily 
made w r orse ; unless through the mercy of God, 
the Spirit be added to it. So that all things still 
happen by necessity; as it respects us. 

Secondly, God seems to be as cruel in bearing 
with men out of lenity, as he is thought to be 
through our representation ; who say, that he 
hardens in the exercise of that inscrutable will of 
his. 1 " For, since he sees that Freewill can will 
nothing good, and is made worse by his lenity in 
bearing with us, this very lenity exhibits him in 
the most cruel form, as one that is delighted with 
our calamities : seeing he could heal them, if he 
would; and could avoid bearing with us if he 
would; or rather, could not bear with us, except it 
were his will to do so : for who could compel him 
to do so, against his will ? If that will therefore 
remains, without which nothing happens in the 
world; and it be granted, that Freewill can 
will nothing good; all that is said to excuse 
God, and to accuse Freewill, is said to no pur 
pose. For Freewill is always saying, c I cannot, 
and God will not : what can I do ? Let him shew 
me mercy, forsooth, by afflicting me ; I am never 
the forwarder for it, but must be made worse ; 
except he give me the Spirit. This he does not 
give ; which he would give, if it were his will to 
do so : it is certain therefore, that he wills not 
to give it. n 

m Volcndo voluntate illd imperscrutabili. ] See above, Part iii. 
Sect, xxviii. notes l v x . 

n Luther s drift is, There must be a will of God distinct 


Nor are the similes, which she adduces, at all SEC.VIII. 
to the purpose, when she says, As mud is hard- 
ened by the self-same sun which melts wax ; and, 
as the cultivated ground produces fruit by means sun and 
of the self-same shower from which the untilled ! am * e 
sends forth thorns ; even so, by the self-same 
forbearance of God, some are hardened and 
others converted/ 

We do not divide Freewill into two different 
sorts, making one to be mud and the other wax ; 
or one to be cultivated ground, and the other 
neglected ground : but we speak of one sort of 
Freewill, which is equally impotent in all men ; 
which is nothing else but the mud, nothing else but 
the untilled ground, in these comparisons seeing 
it is what cannot will good. Nor does Paul say 
that God, in his character of the potter, makes 
one vessel to honour and another to dishonour, 
out of a different lump of clay; but " of the SAME 
lump, saith he, the potter maketh, &c." So 
that, as the mud always becomes harder, and the 
uncultivated ground more thorny, by the sun 
and rain, severally; even so, Freewill is always 
made worse, as well by the indurating mildness 
of the sun as by the liquefying violence of the 
rain. If the definition of Freewill then be one, 
and its impotency the same in all men ; no reason 
can be assigned, why one man s Freewill attains 
to grace, arid another man s does not ; if no other 
cause be declared than the forbearance of an 
enduring God and the correction of a pitying one : 
for it is assumed, by a definition which makes no 
distinctions, that Freewill in every man is a 
power which can will nothing good. Then it will 

from that which he has revealed for the regulation of man s 
conduct : what he calls the inscrutable will, or will of the 
hidden God. My quarrel against him is, that he does not 
shew the connection and coincidence between these two wills ; 
and does not shew a reason for this apparently harsh conduct. 
See, as before. 

Tempestate plucue liquefaciente. 


PART iv. follow, that neither does God elect any man, 

neither is there any place left for election ; but 

man s Freewill alone elects, by accepting or re 
jecting forbearance and wrath. But deprive God 
of his wisdom and power in election, and what 
do you make him but a sort of phantom of for 
tune; whose nod is the rash ordainer of all 
things ? p Thus, we shall at length come to this, 
that men are saved and damned, without God s 
knowing it : seeing, he has not separated the saved 
and the damned by a determined election ; but 
bestowing on all, without distinction, first a kind 
ness which bears with them and hardens them; 
then a pity which corrects and punishes them 
has left it to men, to determine whether they will 
be saved or damned ; and himself, meanwhile, has 
just stepped out perhaps to a banquet of the 
Ethiopians, as Homer describes him. q 

Aristotle also paints just such a God for us; 1 

p Cujzis nummeomnia temere fiunt. Chance is the God. 

*J Zeus <y/> Qiccavov /LLCT apL.vfJ.ova^ 
X#t"os t-fli] ILCTCL caiTa Qeol S lifia 
AoiceKttT?^ e TOI avOis eXcvaerai 

ILIAD, A. 423425. 

r Aristotle, the disciple and opponent of Plato, the tutor of 
Alexander, the great master of rhetoric, belles lettres, logic, 
physics, metaphysics, and heathen ethics, was in theology 
little better than an Epicurean ; one of those who have learned 
that the Gods spend a life without care. (Hor. 1. Sat. v. 101.) 
It is said in excuse for the less explicit parts of his system, that 
he attached himself to the principles of natural philosophy, 
rather than those of theology. He maintained the existence 
of a God as the great mover of all things ; which have been 
put into motion from eternity, and will continue in motion to 
eternity. Thus lie maintained the eternity of matter as well 
as of God. He painted this God finely : the necessary being; 
the first, and the most excellent of beings; immutable, in 
telligent, indivisible, without extension : He resides above 
the enclosure of the world , He there finds his happiness in 
the contemplation of himself. How apt is the expression, by 
which Luther describes him as painting God ! (pinxit) a rhe 
torical term applied to that sort of discourse which is embel 
lished with tropes and figures, such as display much genius, but 
charm by their sweetness, rather than edify by their intelligence. 


one who sleeps, for example, and suffers any that SEC.VIH. 

will, to use and to abuse liis goodness and his 

severity. 6 And how can reason judge otherwise 
of God, than Diatribe here does ? For, as she 
herself snores away, and despises divine things ; 

Aristotle s God, then, is one who keeps order in the heavens, 
but interferes in a very limited degree with earth. All the 
movements of nature are in some sort subordinated to him ; He 
appears to be the cause and principle of every thing; He 
appears to take some care of human affairs. But, in all the 
universe, He can look upon nothing but Himself; the sight 
of crime and of disorder would defile his eyes : He could not 
know how to be the author either of the prosperity of the 
wicked, or of the misery of the good. His superintendence is 
like that of the master of a family, who has established a cer 
tain order of things in his household, and takes care that the 
end which he has in view be accomplished, but shuts his eyes 
to their divisions and their vices, and only takes care to obviate 
the consequences of them. He stamped the impress of his 
will upon the universe, when first he projected it like a bail 
from his hand ; and it is by a general, not minute, superintend 
ence, that he sustains it. The perpetuation of the several 
species of beings is his grand object: which he secured by his 
one first impulse. * Has Luther calumniated this philosopher? 
Yet was this heathen teacher made the great model for instruc 
tion to the Christian church, both as to form and substance, for 
many ages. During the second period of the reign of the 
schoolmen, which began early in the thirteenth century, his 
reputation was at its height : the most renowned doctors wrote 
elaborate commentaries upon his works. The predominance of 
his philosophy a philosophy, which knew nothing of original 
sin and native depravity ; which allowed nothing to be crimi 
nal, but certain external flagitious actions ; and which was 
unacquainted with any righteousness of grace, imputed to a 
sinner was itself a corruption, and the fruitful source of other 
corruptions, which cried aloud for reformation, mid which TUB 
IEFORMERS of the sixteenth century exposed and suppressed. 
,See Miln. Eccles. Hist. vol. iv. p. 283.) 

1 Correplione.~\ The word has occurred several times be- 
! ore, and I have rendered it by correction, chastening, 
severity. It properly denotes the snatching of a substance 
lastily up, and is applied sometimes to the seizure of the body 
y disease. Hence, it is transferred to a figurative cutting 
hort; "At that time the Lord began to cut Israel short" 
2 Kings x. C 23.) ; and so, to reprehension, chiding and 
hastisement in general. 

* I am indebted to the AbW Barthelemi s Anacharsis for this concise but 
loquent view of Aristotle s Theology, vol. v. chap. Ixiv. 


PART iv. so, she judges even of God, that he in some sort 

snores away; and, having nothing to do with the 

exercise of wisdom, will and present power * in 
electing, separating and inspiring, has committed 
to men this busy and troublesome work of accept 
ing and rejecting his forbearance and his wrath. 
This is what we come to, whilst coveting to mete 
out, and excuse God, by the counsel of human 
reason; whilst, instead of reverencing the secrets 
of His Majesty, we break in to scrutinize them 
overwhelmed with his glory, instead of uttering 
one single plea in excuse for him, w T e vomit forth 
a thousand blasphemies ! We forget our own- 
selves also the mean while, and chatter, like mad 
people, both against God and against ourselves, 
in the same breath; though our design is to speak 
with great wisdom, both for God and for our 
selves. You see here, in the first place, what 
this trope and gloss of Diatribe s makes of God : 
but do you not also see, how vastly consistent she 
is with herself in it? She had before made Free 
will equal and alike in all, by including all in one 
definition; but now, in the course of her dispu 
tation, she forgets her own definition, and makes 
a cultivated Freewill one, and an uncultivated 
Freewill another ; setting out a diversity of Free- 
wills, according to the diversity of works, habits, 
and characters; one that can do good, another 
that cannot do good : and this, by its own powers, 
before grace received; by which powers of its 
own, she had laid it down in her definition, that 
Freewill could not of itself will any thing good. 
Thus it comes to pass, tliat, if we will not leave 
to the sole will of God both the will and the power 
to harden, and to shew mercy, and to do every 
thing; we must ascribe to Freewill herself the 
power of doing every thing, without grace : al 
though we have denied that it can do any thing 
good without grace. 

1 Sap. vol. prcBsentid elig, discern, inspir. omissd. 


The simile of the sun and rain, then, is of no SEC.ix. 

force as to this point. A Christian will use 

that simile with far greater propriety, consider 
ing the Gospel to be that sun and rain (as Ps. 
xix. and Heb. vi. do) ; the cultivated ground, the 
elect; the uncultivated, the reprobate. The 
former of. these are edified and made better by 
the word; the latter are offended and made 
worse: whereas Freewill, when left to herself, 
is in all men the uncultivated ground; yea, the 
kingdom of Satan. 

Let us also look into her reasons for imagining Erasmus s 
this trope in this place. It seems absurd, says {^JoT* 
Diatribe, that God, who is not only just but also cizingcon- 
good, should be said to have hardened a man s sidered - 
heart in order to manifest his own power by the 
man s wickedness. So she runs back to Origen ; 
who confesses, that God gave occasion to the in 
duration, but flings back the blame upon Pharaoh. 
Origen has, besides, remarked that the Lord 
said, " For this cause have I raised tliee up :" He 
does not say, for this cause have I made thee. y 
No : for Pharaoh would not have been wicked, 
if he had been such as God made him ; God hav 
ing beheld all his works, and they were very good. 
So much for Diatribe. 

Absurdity, then, is one of the principal reasons Absurdity 
for not understanding Moses s and Paul s words j} . 1 a suf " 
in their simple and literal sense. But what ar 
ticle of faith is violated by this absurdity, and 
who is offended by it ? Human reason is of 
fended : and she forsooth, who is blind, deaf, 
foolish, impious and sacrilegious in her dealings 
with all the words and works of God, is brought 
n here to be the judge of God s works and words. 
Upon the same principle, you will deny all the 
irticles of the Christian faith ; inasmuch as it is 
:he most absurd thing possible, and, as Paul 
:ays, " to the Jews a stumbling block, and 
o the Gentiles foolishness," that God should 



PART IV. become man,, the son of a virgin ; that lie should 
have been crucified; that he should be sitting at 
the right hand of the Father. It is absurd, I say, 
to believe such things. Let us therefore invent some 
tropes like those of the Arians, to prevent Christ 
from being God absolutely? Let us invent some 
tropes like those of the Manicheans/ to prevent 

u Simpliciter, opposed to figuratively. See Sect. iii. note () . 

v The Manichees, so called from Manes their founder, arose 
in the reign of the Emperor Probus, A. D. <277- Like most of 
the ancient heretics, they abounded in senseless whims, not 
worthy of any solicitous explanation. This they had in com 
mon with the Pagan philosophers, that they supposed the 
Supreme Being to be material, and to penetrate all nature. 
Their grand peculiarity was to admit of two independent prin 
ciples, a good and an evil one, in order to solve the arduous 
question concerning the origin of evil. Like all heretics, they 
made a great parade of seeking truth with liberal impartiality, 
and were thus qualified to deceive unwary spirits, who, far 
from suspecting their own imbecility of judgment, and re 
gardless of the word of (rod and hearty prayer, have no idea of 
attaining religious knowledge by any other method than by 
natural reason. Like all other heretics they could not stand 
before the Scriptures. They professedly rejected the Old 
Testament, as belonging to the malignant principle ; and, Avhen 
they were pressed with the authority of the New, as corrobo 
rating the Old, they pretended the New was adulterated. 
Is there any new thing under the sun ? Did not Lord Boling- 
broke set up the authority of St. John against St. Paul ? Have 
we not heard of some parts of the Gospel as not genuine, be* 
cause they suit not Socinian views ? Genuine Christian prin 
ciples alone will bear the test, nor fear the scrutiny of the 
WHOLE word of God. Augustine, who lived about a century 
after they had first arisen, describes them to the life ; after 
having himself smarted under the poison of their arrows, 
for about twelve years : seduced partly by their subtile and 
captious questions concerning the origin of evil, partly by 
their blasphemies against the Old Testament saints. 
With respect to the person of Christ, their heresy was like 
that of the Gnostics, or Docetae : worthy children of Simon 
Magus ! They held that the Lord Jesus Christ had no proper 
humanity ; the mere phantasm of a man having glided, as 
Luther here describes it, through the virgin s womb, and after 
wards expired upon the cross. Yet though my ideas were 
material, says Augustine, I could not bear to think of God 
being flesh. That was too gross and low in my apprehensions. 
Thy only begotten son appeared to me as the most lucid part 
of thee, afforded for our salvation, I concluded that such a 


his being a real man ; and let us make him out to SECT.IX. 

be a sort of phantom, which glided through the 

virgin (like a ray of the sun through a piece of 
glass), and was crucified. A nice way of handling 
Scripture ! 

And yet these tropes get us no forwarder, and Does not 
do not serve to evade the absurdity : for it still 
remains absurd in the eye of reason that this just 
and good God should demand impossibilities of 
Freewill ; and when Freewill cannot will good, 
but by necessity serves sin, should nevertheless 
impute it to her ; and so long as he withholds the 
Spirit, should not be a whit more kind, or more 
merciful, than if he were to harden or permit men 
to be hardened. Reason will be again and again 
repeating, that these are not the acts of a kind 
and merciful God. These things so far exceed 
her apprehension, and she so wants power to take 
even her own self captive, that she cannot believe 
God to be good if he should act and judge so; 
but setting faith aside, demands that she should 
be able to touch and see and comprehend how 
it is that He is just and not cruel. Now she 
would have this sort of comprehension if it were 
said of God, f he hardens nobody, he damns 
nobody ; on the contrary, he pities every body, 
he saves every body ; so as that hell should be 
destroyed, and the fear of death removed, and no 
future punishment dreaded. Hence it is, that she 
becomes so boisterous and so vehement x in ex- 
nature could not be born of the Virgin Mary, without par 
taking of human flesh, which I thought must pollute it. 
Hence arose my fantastic ideas of Jesus, so destructive of all 
piety. Thy spiritual children may smile at me with charitable 
sympathy, if they read these my confessions ; such however 
were my views. Milner in Augustine s Confessions, Eccles. 
Hist. vol. ii. pp. 314 327. 

x SEstuat et contendit.~] JEst. denoting violent heat in gene 
ral, is especially applied to the boiling and swelling of the sea, 
when it ebbs and flows, or rises in surges and waves. Contend. 
expresses the full stretch of every nerve and muscle in close 



PART IV. cusing and defending the just and beneficent God. 

Faith and the Spirit, however, judge differently; 

they believe God to be good, although he should 
destroy all men. And of what use is it, that we 
are wearied to deatli with these elaborate specu 
lations that we may be enabled to remove the 
blame of induration from God to Freewill. 
Let Freewill do what she can, with all her 
means y and all her might in exercise, she will 
never furnish an example of avoiding to be har 
dened where God has not given his Spirit, or of 
earning mercy where she has been left to her 
own powers. For, what is the difference whether 
she be hardened or deserve to be hardened ; since 
hardening is necessarily in her, so long as that 
impotency, by which, according to Diatribe her 
self], she cannot will good, is in her. Since the 
absurdity then is not removed by these tropes, or, if 
removed, is removed but to make way for greater 
absurdities, and to ascribe all power to Freewill; 
away with these useless and misleading tropes, 
and let us stick to the pure and simple M r ord of 

SECT. x. < The other principal reason why this trope 

should be received is, that the things which God 

made^u* -hath made are very good : and God does not 
things very say, I have made thee for this very thing, but for 
good not a this very thing I have raised thee up/ 

reason. First I answer, that this was said before the 

fall of man, when the things which God had 
made were very good. But it follows presently, 
in the third chapter, how man was made evil, 
deserted of God and left to himself. From this 
man, so corrupted, all men are born, and born 

>" Toto mundo totisque viribus.~\ Mundus is properly the 
stuff of the world the materials of which it is constituted 
and is transferred thence to all kinds of furniture and provi 
sion specially to women s dress and ornaments instru- 
mentum ornatus muliebris. I would not be sure that Luther 
has not some allusion to Madam Diatribe s adornments 


wicked ; Pliaroah amongst the rest. As Paul SECT - x - 
says, " We were all by nature the children of 
wrath, even as others." God therefore did make 
Pharaoh wicked ; that is, out of a wicked and 
corrupted seed. As he says in the Proverbs of 
Solomon, " The Lord hath made all things for 
himself, yea, even the wicked man for the day of 
evil" (not indeed by creating wickedness in him, 
but by forming him out of an evil seed and 
ruling him.) It is not a just conclusion there 
fore, f God formed the wicked man, therefore he 
is not wicked/ For how can it be that he is 
not wicked, springing as he does from a wicked 
seed ? As he says in Psalm li. " Behold I was 
conceived in sins." And Job says, " Who can 
make clean that which has been conceived of 
unclean seed?" For although God does not make 
sin, still he ceases not to form and to multiply a 
nature which has been corrupted by sin, through 
the withdrawal of the Spirit: just as if a car 
penter should make statues of rotten wood. 
Thus men are made just such as their nature 
is, through God s creating and forming them of 
that nature. 2 

z Luther has not exactly hit the nail upon the head here. 
He declares that God makes wicked man; and that he so 
makes him, through the faultiness of the materials which he ha 
to work with, being fitly compared to a carpenter who should 
make statues of rotten wood. Moreover, this faultiness of the. 
materials arose from the sin of the first man; who was created 
having the Spirit, what he elsewhere calls the firstfruits of 
the Spirit, (Part iii. Sect, xviii.) which he lost by his sin and 
fall ; being thenceforth deserted of God, and loft to himself. I 
deem both these propositions objectionable and false. Neither 
doth God make sinners ; neither did he withdraw the Spirit 
from Adam by reason of his sin, and so, through him, from the 
race which has sprung from him ; for he never had it. When 
God created man in his own image, he created every man. 
The substance of every individual man and woman which exists, 
hath existed, and shall exist till the trumpet shall sound and 
the dead shall be raised, was enclosed in the first man, Adam. 
No new matter of human kind has been brought into existence 
since that moment 5 no human being has been created thcro- 


PART iv. Secondly I answer, if you will have those 
words, " were very good," to be understood of 

fore, posterior to it. (See Locke s Essay, book ii. chap. xxvi. 
sect. 2.) T^or was this creation the mere production of a mass 
of human substance, like so much clay in the hands of a potter 
which was afterwards to be moulded into distinct vessels. 
Distinctness and individuality of subsistence was given to the 
several individuals of the human race in that instant. This 
appears, as Avell from other considerations which might be 
stated, as from these eminently; 1. Man is spoken of, and 
spoken to, as plural. (" Let them have dominion." " Male and 
female created he them" " God blessed them, and God said 
unto them, Be ye fruitful and multiply." " And called their name 
Adam, in the day when they were created.") 2. God is de 
clared to have created them male and female : a fact which the 
Lord Jesus refers to (Matt. xix. 4, 5. Mark x. 6.), as indicative 
of his Father s will concerning marriage. (It is clearly not the 
formation of Eve to which he refers, but that act of creation 
which distinctly preceded the making of the help-meet.) 
3. God is said to have chosen his people to be in Christ before 
the foundation of the world ; which implies that the whole race 
was contemplated as personally and individually subsistent, in 
a state prior to the exercise of that choice. Having thus given 
a distinct personal subsistence to every individual of the human 
race in Adam, when the Lord God added the procreative 
power, and gave command to exercise it ; essentially he did 
make every individual : the substance about to come forth, in 
the Lord s time, into manifest existence and distinct personal 
agency, was already formed ; the power and the authority 
which would be necessary to its production, were superadded; 
Then, if this was God s condidit (Luther s term made, 
formed, builded ), hath He made wicked man ? Is not 
that saying of the Preacher hereby, and hereby only, shewn to 
be true, " God hath made man upright?" (Eccles. vii. 29.) 
The only consideration, which can have any shew of involving 
God in the propagation of the wicked, is, that he did not at 
once destroy the offender, and those who had offended in him. 
But, without here suggesting counsel and design (we are deal 
ing with facts), the living substances were formed; the power 
and the authority for production had been given ; a curse was 
upon them, which they must be brought out into manifest 
existence that they might be seen and known to bear. I 
cannot but remark, that these, or some such reasons, which 
arise out of the reality of their previous distinct subsistence, 
seem absolutely necessary to the vindication of God from the 
charge of propagating sin. If it be asked then, but how could 
those who had no eye to see, no ear to hear, no hand to put 
forth, commit an act of disobedience ? The answer is, Adam was 
the sole personal agent (" By one man sin entered into the world j " 


the works of God after tlie fall, you will observe SECT. x. 
they are spoken not of us, but of God. He does 

" by one man s offence death reigned by one ;" " by the offence 
of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation") ; but 
every individual of the race was enclosed in, and was part of 
his substance, so that he could not do any thing in which any 
one of them was not one Avith him. My head offendeth ; but 
Avhcre is my hand and my foot, in the transgression and in its 
punishment ? That this is the Scripture view of the fall one 
personal agent 5 but every human being partaker Avith him in 
the offence is decisively shewn from Romans v. 12. Whether 
e(j) ii* be rendered in whom, (" through him in whom all sin 
ned" which I greatly prefer), or for that : the words Avhich 
follow make it plain, that all men are dealt Avith or rather, 
all men, from Adam to Moses, were, dealt Avith on the 
ground of the first transgression. I have no other clue to my 
own character ; I have no other clue to my OAVH state. Nor 
can I othenvise explain Avhat is thus made clear in the spirit 
and behaA iour of other men. And does not the church of 
England recognise this account of the matter in her baptismal 
service, Avhen she prays that the infant may receive remission 
of his sins by spiritual regeneration; and afterwards instructs 
the priest to speak to the god-fathers and god-mothers in this 
wise ; Ye have prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ Avould 
A ouehsafe to release him of his sins. What sins r This is 
the reality of original sinj Avhence floAved original guilt/ 
whence floAved depravation of nature, so commonly mistaken 
for it. This alone constitutes every son and daughter of fallen 
Adam a fallen creature ; not merely child of the fallen, but 
themselves, individually and personally, fallen from their own 
original uprightness, in him. I haA c hinted that this is not the 
place to speak of counsel and design ; Avith Avhich all this Avas 
done : but it is obA ious that hereby a Avay Avas made for that, 
further and more complete developemcnt of God (by the as 
sumption of neAV relations), Avhich could not be made by simple 
creation, but to Avhich creation was the stepping-stone. (See 
Part iii. Sect, xxviii. notes l and v .) 

Luther is again in mistake (see Part iii. Sect, xviii. note l ) 
about the creation state of man ; speaking as though the pos 
session of the Spirit were a part of his endowments. Deser- 

tus a Deo ac sibi relictus naturam peccato, subtracto 

spiritu, vitiatam. The Lord God having formed his animal 
structure out of the dust of the ground a compound mass 
breathed into his nostrils breath of " lifes," and man became 
a living soul. This continuity of soul and body simple soul, 
and compounded body soul, which Avas an image of Him that 
is a Spirit ; and body, in Avhich he resembled and Avas pur- 
taker Avith the brutes constituted his essential nature ; the 
solution of Avhich continuity constitutes death. So constituted. 


PART IV. not say, man saw the things which God had 
made, and they were very good. Many things 

he had capacities with which to learn, and sources of instruc 
tion from which to derive much knowledge of God. The Lord 
God conversed with him face to face, and he dwelt amongst the 
teaching creatures of His hand ; even as he was himself the 
most teaching of all creatures. But where is the Spirit ? 
meaning the Holy Ghost. Had he possessed this had the 
Spirit dwelt and walked in Him that is, been continually pre 
sent with Him, acting in Him and by Him he had possessed 
union with God : a privilege which was not essential to his 
condition and relation as the moral creature of God, but which 
might, or might not, be added to it. That it was not added is 
plain, as from other considerations, so from this ; that if it was 
added, then it was either conquered in the temptation, or with 
drawn previous to it : I know not what a conquered Holy 
Ghost can mean ; and if withdrawn prior to the temptation, its 
withdrawal would constitute him a different creature from that 
to which the temptation law had been given.* But now, 
being simply a creature, and therefore mutable, he was liable 
to fall by temptation. Accountability implies account to be 
rendered ; account implies trial ; trial implies the presence of 
that in the tried substance which may be turned to evil. Was 
not this precisely Adam s state and constitution ? Good, 
* very good, as he came out of the hands of his Creator, his 
good might be made evil. Those appetites and passions, the 
appendages of his will ; \vhich, in his creation, and until evil 
was suggested from without, were pure, fixed on fit objects, 
and acted in purity ; were liable to be turned to other objects, 
and thus to become evil. Desire of knowledge, desire of 
pleasant food, taking pleasure in what is beautiful to the eye 
all of which were sound and pure in creation might thus, by 
suggestions thrown in, become evil : as infectious fever, or the 
serpent s bite, poisons healthful blood. If no evil were sug 
gested, there would continue only good ; the suggestion, by 
being entertained, mars them. Then, was God debtor to 
Adam, to withhold temptation from him ; or to minister super- 

* Luther s misapprehension has much to do with a mistake about the 
Spirit s actings. He seems to have thought, as many now do, that there 
might be a sort of fast and loose playings of the Spirit. The Spirit, 
when given, acts in earnest and efficaciously. Would Luther say, does he 
always act efficaciously in the Lord s called people, now? I answer, the 
cases are not parallel. We have the Spirit not as our own, and in our Adam 
selves, but in Christ. When we fall, it is not the Spirit conquered, but 
the Spirit not energizing : what could not have happened to Adam. Luther s 
expressions are ambiguous as to the period when the Spirit was withdrawn ; 
whether before, or after the temptation. In a former note (Part iii. Sect, xviii. 
note t) I have dealt with him as representing it to have been withdrawn 
before the temptation. A careful comparison of the several passages in 
which he refers to it leads me to conclude, that he supposed it not withdrawn 
till after the sin had been committed. 


seem very good to God, and are so; which to us SECT.xr. 

appear very bad, and are so. Thus afflictions, 

calamities, errors, hell, nay all the best works of 
God, are, in the sight of the world, very bad and 
damnable. What is better than Christ and the 
Gospel ? but what more hateful to the world ? 
How those things then shall be good in the sight 
of God, which are evil in our eyes, is a mystery 
known to God only, and to those who see with 
God s eyes; that is, who have the Spirit. But 
there is no need of so subtile a strain of argu 
mentation just yet. a The former answer is suffi 
cient for the present. 

It is asked perhaps, how God can be said to How God 
work evil in us ; as for example, to harden, to J 
give men up to their lusts, to tempt, and the sidered. 
like? We ought, forsooth, to be contented with 
the words of God, and simply b to believe what 
they affirm ; since the works of God quite surpass 
all description. But, by way of humouring rea 
son, which is another name for human folly, I am 
content to be silly and foolish, and to try if I can 
at all move her by turning babbler. 

In the first place, even reason and Diatribe 
concede that God worketh all things in all things ; 
and that nothing is effected, or is efficacious 
without him. He is omnipotent; and this apper- 
taineth to his omnipotency, as Paul says to the 

creation aid, fortified as he was by creation endowments, to 
keep him from falling- ; or to heal his wounds, and restore 
soundness and peace to him, when as he had freely fallen ? 

a Tarn acutd <Hsputatione.~] A sharp, keen, refined distinction : 
something like what is ascribed to the " word of God" (Heb. 
iv. 12.) " piercing- even to the dividing asunder of the soul and 
spirit, and of the joints and marrow." Disp. the act of dis 
puting, or the debate held. 

b Simpliciter credere. ] Simply, as opposed to arguments and 
investigations. Faith receives implicitly what God explicitly 

c Balbaticndo .] Properly, to lisp, stammer, or stutter. There 
seems to be some allusion to 2 Cor. xi. " Would to God yo 
could bear with me a little in my folly : and indeed bear with 
me." " I speak as a fool." " I speak foolishly." 


PART IV. Epliesians. d Satan then and man having fallen 

from God, and being deserted by him, cannot will 

good ; that is, cannot will those things which 
please God, or which God wills. They are turned 
perpetually towards their own desires, so that 
they cannot but seek what is their own, and not 
his. 6 This will and nature of theirs therefore, 
which is thus averse from God, still remains a 
something. Satan and the wicked man are not a 
nothing, having no nature or will, though they 
have a nature which is corrupt and averse from 
God. This remainder of nature, therefore, in the 
wicked man and in Satan, of which we speak, 
seeing it is the creature and work of God, 
is not less subject to omnipotency and to divine 
actings, than all the other creatures and works of 

Since then God moves and actuates all things 
in all things, it cannot be but that he also moves 
and acts in Satan and in the wicked. But he acts 
in them according to what they are, and what he 
finds them ; that is, since they are averse from him 
and wicked, and are hurried along by this im 
pulse of the divine omnipotency, they do only 
such things as are averse from him and wicked. 
Just as a horseman, driving a horse which is lame 
in one or two of his feet, drives him according to 
his make and power ; and so the horse goes ill. 
But what can the horseman do? he drives the 
horse such as he is in a drove of sound horses ; 
he makes him go ill, the others well ; f it cannot 
be otherwise, unless the horse be cured. By this 
illustration you see how it is, that, when God 
works in bad men and by bad men, evil is the 
result; but it cannot be that God doeth wickedly, 
although he works evil by the agency of evil 

d Ephes. i. 2. 

e Self is their idol, to the dethronement of God. Their own 
interests and gratification, not God s, are sought. Philip, ii. 21. 

f Illo male, istis bene.~] More literally, he docs well with, 
and he does ill with. dzit cum must be understood. 


men, because he, being good himself, cannot do SECT.XI. 

wickedly ; s but still lie uses evil instruments 

which cannot escape the seizure and impulse of 
his power. The fault therefore is in the instru 
ments, which God does not suffer to remain idle, 
that evil is done ; God, meanwhile, himself being 
the impeller of them. Just as if a carpenter should 
cut ill by cutting with an axe that is f toothed and 
sawed/ Hence it arises, that the wicked man 
cannot but go astray and commit sin continually ; 
inasmuch as being seized and urged by the power 
of God, he is not allowed to remain idle; but 
wills, desires, acts, just according to what he is. h 

B This is very much like saying docth good because he is 
good, and is good because he is good. It is too much like the 
( ipsc dixit* of the Pythagoreans. 

h The amount of Luther s explanation of the mystery of 
God s agency in the wicked, as given in his folly, is, 1. That 
they are still real existences. 2. Still God s creatures. 3. That 
he works all things in them, even as he does in all his crea 
tures. 4. That he works in them according to their nature : 
that hence he docs all their evil in them, but docs no evil himself. 
All this is true ; but it is baldly told, and wants opening, 
confirmation, and some additions. He ought to shew us how 
man came to be what he is, in consistency with God s volun 
tarily contracted obligations to him ; he ought to shew us the 
nature and manner of his agency in the wicked ; he ought to 
shew us how God, in consistency with himself, ordained and 
wrought the fall, and continues wicked man in being ; yea, 
Avorks wickedness by him, instead of destroying him and put 
ting an end to the reign of evil. I say, he ought to have s"hcwn 
these things ; because, though he talks of silliness and fool 
ishness, and babbling, * it is plain that he means a serious 
and sober solution of the difficulty. Then, with respect to the 
first of these shewings, man, as we have seen in a former note,f 
had a constitution imparted, and a state assigned to him, in 
which trial was implied, and in which he ought to have overcome 
temptation. There was no dereliction of the Creator s engage 
ments, no withdrawal of any possession or privilege, no 
gainsaying discession or addition, with respect to God s 
previous announcements, either in the operation of the 
fall, or in the inflictions which followed it. The mutability of 
the creature, as simple creature the accountability of moral 
creature and the distinct source (not creation, but super- 

* Lilet ineptirc, sttrllescere, et balluticndo tentarc, 
t See above, Sect. x. note z . 




How God 

PART iv. These are sure and settled verities, if we, in 
the first place, believe that God is omnipotent; 

creation) of the Spirit s within energizings unveil a just God ; 
that is, one who leaves nothing undone which he had freely 
bound himself to do, and does nothing which he ought not to 
do. Then, with respect to the second of these sheAvings, 
Luther compares God s agency in the wicked to a drover 
driving on a lame horse (he means it not irreverently) ; which 
excites the idea of physical rather than moral influence : but , 
the truth is, God acts in the wicked as in the righteous, by 
setting, or causing to be set, such considerations before the 
will, as constrain it to choose his will. This is moral neces 
sity ; such a will so addressed cannot choose differently. Then, 
with respect to the third of these shewings, God s most gra 
cious and everlasting design of making himself known to, and 
enjoyed by, certain creatures of his hands, according to what 
He really is, affords the ample and adequate reason for all that 
complex, yet simple, system of operation, by which he has been 
dealing with man from the creation to this hour, and shall 
continue to and tliroughout eternity to deal with him : with 
man, his great manifester, not only in the blessed human per 
son of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Part ii. Sect. viii. note r ), but 
also in every individual substance of the whole human race ; 
which is made to manifest itself, that he may manifest himself 
by his doings with it. A sight like this justifies wisdom to her 
children : and, although these considerations may seem to apply 
themselves exclusively to God s dealings with the wicked ; or 
at farthest, with men ; they will require but little extension, to 
comprehend all creatures. Evil has been introduced into the 
creation of God, and is not destroyed, but continues therein, 
and shall so continue, unto God s glory : because he could not 
be manifested as what he is the union and concentration of 
all moral excellency THE TRUTH, TUB LOVE, THE POWER, THE 
WISDOM the good one without it. And what is this evil, 
which has thus come into, and thus abides in God s world ? a 
person as we are apt to account it, having scriptural autho 
rity for so speaking of it ; but thinking so of it, too often to our 
hurt ": Hear what a venerable confessor of the Church has to 
say about it.* I now began to understand, that every crea 
ture of thine hand is in its nature good, and that universal 
nature is justly called on to praise the Lord for his goodness. 
(Psalm cxlviii.) The evil which I sought after has no positive 
existence ; were it a substance, it would be good, because every 
thing individually, as well as all things collectively, is good. 
Evil appeared to be a want of agreement in some parts to others. 
My opinion of. the two independent principles, in order to 
account for the origin of evil, was without foundation. t Evil 

* Augustine s Confessions, in Miln. Eccl. Hist. vol. ii. p,342. 
f See above, Sect. ix. nyte v . 


and, in the second, that the wicked man is the SEC. xn. 

creature of God, but being averse from him, and 

left to himself, without the Spirit of God, cannot 
will or do good. God s omnipotence causes that 
the wicked man cannot escape the moving and 
driving of God ; but, being necessarily subjected 
to God, he obeys him. Still his corruption, or 
aversation from God, causes that he cannot be 

is not a thing- to be created ; let good things only forsake their 
just place, office and order, and then, though till be good in 
their nature, evil, which is only a privative, abounds and pro 
duces positive misery. I asked what was iniquity, and I found 
it to be no substance, but a perversity of the will, Avhich de 
clines from thee, the supreme substance, to lower things, and 
casts away its internal excellencies, and swells with pride 
externally. If it be true then, that the creature, as creature, is 
essentially mutable (what Augustine, and the schoolmen after 
him, applies to the now corrupted state of the human Avill* 
being equally applicable to the will of man to the will of every 
moral creature in its essence ; viz. that it is vertible); if there 
subsist what may fitly be compared to a chord in every moral 
creature, which may be so touched as to yield a jarring note, 
and by its vibration to produce discord throughout the whole 
instrument ; if this chord, which is not in itself evil, may be 
so touched by that which is not evil neither, but good (is not 
self-love such a chord, and is not the sense of God s incompa 
rable excellency, or the intimation of superiority in some other 
like creature of God s, or the suggestion of some flaw, blemish, 
or deficiency in the creature itself each of which ought only to 
excite humility, submission, and gratitude such a touch ":) ; 
can we have any difficulty in conceiving how Satan was with 
drawn from his uprightness, when as he was yet only good, 
and nothing but good was to be heard and seen around him ? 
I am not ignorant that some would divert us altogether from 
contemplations of this kind : but why are we told so much 
about the devil, if we are to have no thoughts about 
his history and origin ? We are taught that pride was 
his condemnation (1 Tim. iii. 6.); " that he was a murderer 
from the beginning, and abode not in the truth" (John viii. 
44.) ; " that he kept not his first estate, but left his own habit 
ation" (Jude 6.) ; " that there was war in heaven." (Rev. 
xii. 7-t) Who shall be ashamed to meditate and explore what 
God hath revealed unto his own justification (Rom. iii. 4.) and 
to our furtherance and joy of faith r (Phil. i. 25.) 

* See Part iii. Sect. i. 

f I am aware, that these wort s arc in their connection to be understood 
prophetically ; but there was a foundation for the allusion. 


PART IV. moved and dragged along, according to good. 

God cannot relinquish the exercise of his omni- 

potency because of the wicked man s aversation ; 
neither can the wicked man change his aversation 
into good will. Thus it conies to pass, that he of 
necessity errs and sins perpetually, until he be 
rectified by the Spirit of God. Howbeit, in all 
these Satan as yet reigns in peace and keeps his 
palace in quietness, in subordination to this im 
pulse of the divine onmipotency. After this fol 
lows the business of hardening; which is in this 
wise. The wicked man, as I have said (and the 
same is true of Satan his prince also), is occupied 
altogether with himself and his own matters ; he 
does not inquire after God, nor care for those 
things which are God s; but seeks his own wealth, 
his own glory, his own works, his own wisdom, 
his own power ; a kingdom, in short, of his own ; 
and what he wants is to enjoy these things in 
peace. Now, if any one resist him, or have a 
inind to diminish ought from these possessions, 
his aversion, indignation, and rage with which he 
is stirred up against his adversary, are not less 
vehement than his desire with which he pursues 
after these possessions : and he is just as incapable 
of restraining his rage as he is of restraining his 
desire and pursuit ; and just as incapable of re 
straining his desire as of putting an end to his 
existence : of which he is incapable, inasmuch as 
he is the creature of God, though a vitiated one. 

This is the history of that rage of the world 
against God s Gospel. That stronger than he, 
which is to conquer the quiet possessor of the 
palace, comes by the Gospel ; condemning those 
desires of glory and riches, and of his own wis 
dom and righteousness ; in short, every thing in 
which he confides. This same provoking of the 
wicked, which is effected by God s saying or doing 
something contrary to their wishes, is the harden 
ing and burdening of them. For, whereas they 


are averse of themselves through the very corrup- SEC.XIII. 

tion of tlieir nature, they are also turned yet more 

out of the way, and made worse, by being resisted 
and robbed, under their averseness. Thus, when 
God was proceeding to snatch his usurped domi 
nion out of the hands of the wicked Pharaoh, he 
provoked him, and did yet more harden and 
weigh down his heart by assailing him with the 
words of Moses, who threatened to take away 
his kingdom, and to withdraw the people from his 
dominion : meanwhile, he gave him not the Spirit 
within, but allowed his own wicked and corrupt 
nature, in which Satan was reigning, to grow red 
hot, to boil over, to rage and get to its height, 
accompanied with a sort of vain confidence and 

Let not any one think therefore, that God, Mistakes 
when he is said to harden, or to work evil in us P rohlblted 
(for to harden is to make evil), does so by creating 
evil as it were anew in us: just as you might 
fancy a malignant vintner, full of mischief himself, 
whilst none is in his vessel, to pour or mix poi 
son into or with the same ; the vessel all the 
while doing nothing itself, save that it receives 
or endures the malignancy of the mixer. For 
when they hear it said, that God works both good 
and evil in us, and that we are subjected to 
the operations of God by a mere passive neces 
sity ; many seem to fancy, that man, a good sort 
of creature, or at least not a bad one, is, in some 
such way as this, made the subject of a bad work 
of God s. These persons do not sufficiently 
consider what a restless sort of actor God is, in 
all his creatures, and how he suffers none of them 
to have a holyday. But let him who would have 
any understanding about such sayings settle it 
thus with himself; that God works evil in us 
(that is, by us), not through any fault of his, but 
through our own faultiness : we being by nature 
evil, and God good, he hurries us along by means 


PART IV. of his own agency (such is the nature of his omni- 
potency), and, good as he is in himself, cannot 
do otherwise than work evil by an evil instru 
ment; which he makes a good use of however 
(such is his wisdom), by turning it to his own 
glory and our salvation. 1 

In like manner, he finds the will of Satan evil 
without creating it so; what has become such, 
through God s deserting of him and Satan s sin 
ning; and finding it so, he lays hold of it in the 
course of his operations, and moves it whither 
soever he will : yet this will does not cease to be 
evil, because God thus moves it. Just so, David 
says of Shimei (2 Sam. xvi. 10.), " Let him curse, 
for God hath commanded him to curse David." 
How does God command him to curse ? such a 
malignant and wicked act ! There was no exter 
nal commandment of this kind to be found any 
where. David then has regard to this consi 
deration, that the omnipotent God speaks, and it 
is done ; that is, he doeth all things by his eternal 
word. So then, the divine agency and omnipo- 
tency seizes hold of the will of Shimei, together 
with all his members that will which was already 
, evil, and which had aforetime been inflamed 
against David ; who met him just at the right 
moment, as having deserved such a cursing and 
even the good God commands (that is, he speaks 
the w r ord and it is done) this curse, which is 
poured out by a wicked and blasphemous organ, 
inasmuch as he seizes hold of that organ, and car 
ries it along with him in the course of his own 

SEC. xiv. Thus he hardens Pharaoh, when he presents his 
words and works to his wicked and evil will ; 
which that will hates, through innate faultiness, 

Pharaoh s 
case consi 

> The wheels of God s omnipotent providence (see Ezek. i. 
15 21.) carry the evil as well as the good along with them in 
their goings : and this unto God s glory ; but is it unto salva 
tion also } This is Luther s defective view. 


no doubt, and natural corruption. Now, when SEC.XIV. 

God does not change this will inwardly by his 

Spirit, but persists in presenting and obtruding 
his words and works ; and when Pharaoh, on the 
other hand, considering his strength, wealth and 
power, confides in them, through the same natural 
pravity ; it comes to pass, that, being puffed up 
and exalted by his own fancied greatness, on the 
one hand, and being rendered a proud despiser 
by the meanness as well of Moses as of the word 
of God which comes to him in an abject form, 
on the other; he is first hardened, and then more 
and more provoked and aggravated, the more 
Moses urges and threatens him. This evil will 
of his, however, would not of itself be stirred up 
to action, or hardened ; but since the omnipotent 
actor drives it along as he does the rest of his 
creatures, by an inevitable impulse, will it must. 
Add to this, that He at the same time presents 
from without that which naturally irritates and 
offends it; so that Pharaoh cannot avoid being 
hardened any more than he can avoid the agency 
of the divine omnipotence, and the aversation or 
malignancy of his own will. So that Pharaoh s 
hardening by God is completed thus ; he sets 
before his maliciousness that which he of his own 
nature hates from without; after this he ceases 
not to stimulate that evil will, just such as he finds 
it, by his own omnipotent impulse within. The 
man meanwhile, such being the wickedness of his 
will, cannot but hate what is contrary to himself^ 
and confide in his own strength. Thus he is made 
obstinate to such a degree, that he neither hears 
nor has any understanding, but is hurried away 
under the possession of the devil, like one mad 
and raving. k 

k Luther s account of is, 1. God actuates the 
wicked as well as the rest of his creatures, according to 
their nature. <2. Satan is in them unresisted and undisturbed. 
3. They can only will evil. 4. God thwarts them by word, or 



view of the case be satisfactory, I have 
gained my cause ; we agree to explode tropes and 

or deed, or both. All this is correct j but it is not the whole 
of the matter ; neither does he put the several parts of the 
machinery together, cleverly 5 neither does he shew an end. (See 
above, Sect. xi. note h . All these things are of God, through 
God, and to God. (Rom. xi. 36.) The natural man has been 
brought into the state in which he is, of, through, and to him. 
And what is that state ? earthly, sensual, devilish soul (James 
iii. 16.), possessed by the devil; to whom it was given up, as a 
prey, in the day of apostasy. Luther distinguishes the moving 
and driving, or seizing and moving, of God, from his < word 
and work. It is a fine image which he draws of God giving 
motion to f all creature. But if this idea be examined, it will 
be found to amount to no more than that God keeps all his 
creatures in a state of being which is accordant to their nature ; 
and that the wicked therefore are, by the necessity of their 
nature, kept by him in a state of activity, and not allowed to be 
torpid, or, as Luther facetiously expresses it, to have a holy- 
day. Particular actings of God, then, upon this substance of the 
human soul, such and so related, are what he expresses by 
God s thwarting word and work : but this thwarting word 
and work extends only to the outside of the man ; forls qffert 
forts objicit. All this while, Satan s is an agency with which, as 
it respects others, God does not interfere : he is no agent, no 
minister of His. You might almost judge from his language 
in some places (contradicted it is true by others), that he ac 
counted Satan a sort of independent chief.- Now here, if I mis 
take not, the root of the matter lies. Satan is an agent and 
minister of God. (See Job i. 11. 1 Kings xxii. 1 9 23. 1 Chron. 
xxi. 1. Compare 2 Sam, xxiv. 1. Zech. iii. 1 3.) Nor can I 
understand the expressions so repeatedly applied to the case of 
Pharaoh, " I will harden Pharaoh s heart ;" nor " Whom he 
will he hardeneth;" nor "God hath given them the spirit 
of slumber/ nor "Thou hast hid these things from the 
wise and prudent " and the like without recurring to this 
agency : which obviously meets their full and express import, 
whilst nothing else, or less, does. And what is the effect of 
this agency but such as hath been already ascribed to the ope 
ration of God ? (see note h , as before) hereby He sets, or 
causes to be set, such considerations (it might be added, and 
causes such to be withheld for Satan throws dust into men s 
eyes ; hinders them from seeing, as well as causes them to see 
wrongly) before the mind of His free-agent, as morally constrain 
him to choose what He hath willed. O what is there that can 
give peace under the realizing consciousness of his being and 
agency, but the assurance that he is in truth only this agent of 
God for good, and nothing but good, to his chosen ? God s 
hardening, therefore, I define generally to be ( that special opera- 


the glosses of men, and to understand the words SEC.XIV. 
of God literally, that it may not be necessary to 
make excuses for God, or accuse him of injustice. 
When he says, I will harden Pharaoh s heart, he 
speaks in plain language, as if he should say, I 
will cause that the heart of Pharaoh shall be hard 
ened; or, that it shall be hardened through my 
doings and workings. How this is effected, we 
have heard : it shall be by my exciting his own 
evil will inwardly by that general sort of impulse by 
which I move all things, so that he shall go on under 
his own bias, and in his own course of willing ; 
nor will I cease to stimulate him, nor can I do 
otherwise. I will at the same time present him 
with a word and a work, which that evil bias of 
his will fall foul of; since he can do nothing else 
but choose ill, whilst I stimulate the very sub 
stance of the evil which is in him, by virtue of my 

Thus was God most sure, and thus did he with 
the greatest certainty pronounce, that Pharaoh 
should be hardened, as being most sure, that 
Pharaoh s will could neither resist the excitement 
of his omnipotency, nor lay aside its own mali 
ciousness, nor receive Moses as a friend when pre 
senting himself to him as an adversary ; but that 
his will would remain evil, and he would neces 
sarily become worse, harder and prouder, whilst, 

tion of God upon the reprobate soul, by which, through the 
agency of Satan (whose Lord and rider he is), combined with 
his own outward dispensations of word and work, he shuts and 
seals it up in its own native blindness, aversation and enmity to 
wards himself. There have been however, and doubtless are, 
certain special and splendid exemplifications of this operation, 
each having its minuter peculiarities, whilst the same essential 
nature pervades all. Pharaoh is one of these. Indeed the whole 
history of the Exodus is one of the most luminous displays, 
which the Lord God hath ever made, of the design he is pur 
suing and accomplishing in having and dealing with creatures; 
second only to the marvellous and complicated history of the 
Lord s death : whereuuto also it was appointed ; whereunto also 
it hath been recorded. 



still be 

PART IV. in pursuing his own natural bias and course, he 

encountered an opposition which he did not like, 

and which he despised through a confidence in 
his own powers. Thus, you see it here confirmed 
even by this very assertion, that Freewill can do 
nothing but evil ; seeing that God, who neither 
is mistaken through ignorance, nor lies through 
wickedness, so confidently promises the hardening 
of Pharaoh s heart; being sure forsooth, that an 
evil will can will only evil, and, if a good which 
contravenes its own lust be proposed to it, can 
only be made worse thereby. 1 

SEC. xv. It remains therefore, that a man may ask, 

Why doth not God cease from that very stimu- 

imperti- ] a tion of his omiiipotency by which the wicked 

nent ques- . I j- -, i J 

tionsmay man s will is stirred up to continue in its wicked 
ness, and to wax worse? I answer, This is to 
desire that God should cease to be God for the 
sake of the wicked, if you wish his power and 
agency to cease ; in fact, it is to desire that God 
should cease to be good, least they should be 
made worse/ But why doth he not at the same 
time change those evil wills which he excites? 
This appertaineth to the secrets of his Majesty ; 
in which his judgments are incomprehensible. 
We have no business to ask this question; our 
business is to adore these mysteries : and if flesh 
and blood be offended here and murmur, let it 
murmur, pray : it will get no forwarder however ; 
God will not be changed for these murmurs. 
And what if ungodly men go away scandal 
ized in great numbers ? The elect will remain 
notwithstanding. The same answer shall be given 
to those who ask, Why he allowed Adam to fall, 

1 " Let my people go that they may serve me," is a good 
demand ; but is directly contrary to Pharaoh s will, its course 
and propensity. (See the preceding note.) Luther makes this 
act of God negative ; save, as respects God s g-eneral and par 
ticular operations in his providence. He does not change the 
will ; he keeps his moral creature in being ; he thwarts his in 
clinations. What is Satan, meanwhile ; and what does he ? 


and why he goes on to make all of us, who are SEC.XVI. 

infected through the same sin; when he might 

have kept him from sinning, and might either have 
created us from another stock, or have purged 
the corrupted seed first? He is God : whose will 
has no cause or reason 1 " which can be prescribed 
to it for rule and measure ; seeing it hath no equal 
or superior, but is itself the rule of all things. If 
it had any rule or measure, or cause or reason, 
it could not any longer be the will of God. For 
what he wills is not right, because he ought to 
will so, or ought to have willed so : on the con 
trary, because he wills so, therefore what is done 
must be right. Cause and reason are prescribed 
to the creature s will, but not to the Creator s; 
unless you would set another Creator over his 

By these considerations the trope-making Dia- The trope 

m Nulla est causa, nee ratio. ] Can. is the correlative of effect ; 
what gives origin to this will : rat. the principle, rate, 
method, and design of its operations ; which supposes some 
extrinsic standard. There is no siich source, or standard, for 
God s will : no cause which produces it ; no Tightness which it 

n The defects of Luther s theology are strongly manifested 
in this paragraph. He has no answer to give, where a satis 
factory one is at hand : God continues to move the wicked, 
because it is for his glory that they should go on to act, just 
such as they are. For the same cause he ordained and brought 
about, or, as Luther speaks, permitted Adam s fall. God does 
not create* wicked men. (See above, Sect. x. note z .) God s 
will is cause and reason to itself: but he has a reason for 
all he does ; and this reason, so far as respects his actings with 
which we have to do, is resolvable into self-manifestation. 
(See former notes.) As to these and such like questions, 
which Luther judges it improper to ask, the whole matter is, 
doth the word of God furnish an answer to them, or not ? If 
it does, we are bound to entertain them and supply the true 

* Strange that he should use the word creare, as applied to our gene 
ration from Adam. When a thing is made up of particles which did all of 
them before exist, but that very thing, so constituted of preexisting particles, 
had not any existence before ; this, when referred to a substance produced 
in the ordinary course of nature by an internal principle, but set on work by 
and received from some external agent or cause, nnd working by insensible 
ways which we perceive not, we call generation. Locke s Essay, vol. i. chap, 
xxvi. sect. 2. 


PART IV. tribe is sufficiently confuted., I think ; but let us 
come to the text itself, that we may see what sort 
f agreement there is between herself and her 

text. trope. It is customary with all those who elude 
arguments by tropes, to despise the text itself 
stoutly, and make it their only labour to pick out 
some one word, and torture it with tropes, and 
crucify it by the sense they impose upon it, with 
out having the least regard to the surrounding 
context, or to the words which follow and pre 
cede, or to the author s scope or cause. Thus it 
is with Diatribe here : nothing heeding what 
Moses is about, or what is the aim of his dis 
course, she snatches this little word ( I will 
harden (which offends her) out of the text, and 
fashions it after her own pleasure; not at all 
considering in the meanwhile, how it is to be 
brought back and inserted again into the text, 
and to be fitted in so as to square with the body 
of the text. This is just the reason, why Scripture 
is accounted not quite clear, by those most learned 
doctors who have had the greatest possible accept 
ance amongst men for so many ages. What won 
der ? The sun himself could not shine if such 
tricks were played with him. 

But to omit what I have already shewn, that 
Pharaoh is not properly said to be hardened 
because he is endured by God with lenity, and 
not forthwith punished ; since he was chastened 
with so many plagues : if to endure through the 
divine lenity, and not straightway to punish, be 
called hardening, what need was there for God 

answer. How much better than to leave the caviller strong 
in his unanswered cavils ! And what is the result ? a knoivn 
God instead of an unknown ; a God whom we revere, admire, 
and delight in, when we should otherwise only tremble and 
shudder before him ! 

Artibus petitus. ] Pet. made the subject of attack ; whe 
ther by violence, stratagem, or supplication : probably has allu 
sion here to some magical incantations by which sorcerers 
pretended to darken the sun ! See Hor, Epod. v. xvii. 


so often to promise that he would (as a future act) SE - xvir - 

harden Pharaoh s heart, when now the miracles 

were in performance Pharaoh all the while being 
a man who, before these miracles, and before this 
hardening-, having been endured through the 
divine lenity, and not punished, had inflicted so 
many evils upon the children of Israel, in his full 
blown pride, the offspring of his prosperity and 
wealth? So then, this trope is nothing at all to 
the purpose here ; since it might be applied pro 
miscuously to all who sin under the endurance of 
divine indulgence. At this rate, we might say 
that all men are hardened : since there is no man 
who does not commit sin ; and no man could 
commit sin, if he were not endured with divine 
indulgence. This hardening of Pharaoh there 
fore is something different from, and beyond, that 
general endurance of the divine lenity. p 

Rather, Moses s object is not so much to an- Moses s 
nounce Pharaoh s wickedness, as God s truth and ^? t a | n ob 
mercy : that the children of Israel may not for- such re- 
sooth mistrust the promises of God, by which he P eated . tes - 
had engaged to liberate them. This deliverance t o God s 
being a vast thing, he forewarns them of its dif- design and 
ficulty, that their faith may not falter; knowing 
as they thus would, that all these things had been is to 
predicted, and were receiving such an accom- 
plishment, through the arrangement of that very 
person who had given them the promises. Just 
as if he should say, I am delivering you, it is most 
true ; but you will hardly believe it, Pharaoh will 
make such a resistance, and will so put off the 
event. But trust in my promises not a whit 
the less : all this very putting-off of his will be 
effected by my workings, that I may perform the 

P The word lenitas, which occurs so frequently in this pas 
sage, properly denotes softness," gentleness, kindness, as 
opposed to roughness, harshness, severity ; and seems 
most aptly to express that forbearance, or indulgence, 
with which the Lord God suffereth long, and is kind. 


PART IV. more and the greater miracles, to confirm you in 
your faith, and to shew my power ; that you may 
hereafter place the greater confidence in me with 
respect to all other things. This is just what 
Christ also does, when he promises the kingdom 
to his disciples at the last supper : he foretels 
very many difficulties his own death, and their 
manifold tribulations that when the event should 
have taken place, they might hereafter believe in 
him much more. 1 

Indeed, Moses sets this meaning very clearly 
before us, when he says, " But Pharaoh shall" not 
let you go, that many signs may be wrought in 
Egypt." And again : " To this end have I stirred 
thee up, that I might shew in thee my power, and 
that my name might be declared in all the earth." 
You see here, that Pharaoh is hardened for this 
very purpose, that he may resist God, and may put 
off the redemption of Israel ; in order that occa 
sion may be made for shewing many signs, and 
for declaring the power of God; to the end, that 
he may be spoken of and believed in, throughout 
all the earth. What is this else, but that all 
these things are spoken and done to confirm faith, 
and to comfort the weak, that they may freely 
trust in God hereafter, as the true, the faithful, 
the powerful and the merciful One? As if he 
would say to his little ones in softest words, Be 
not terrified bv Pharaoh s hardness of heart : I 

*/ * 

am the worker of that very hardness also, and I 
hold it in my own hands; I who am your deliverer 
will use it with no other effect, than that it shall 
cause me to work many signs, and to declare 

i " Now I tell you before it come (Judas s treachery"), that, 
when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He." " And 
now I have told you before it come to pass (his going to the 
Father), that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe." 
" But these things have I told you (their own persecutions), 
that, when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told 
yoxi of them." (John xiii. 19. xiv. 29. xvi. 4.) 

r Exod. vii. 4. xi. 9. 


my greatness, to the end that ye may believe in SE. xvir. 
me/ s 

Hence that saying, which Moses repeats after 
nearly every plague, " And the heart of Pharaoh 
was hardened, that he did not let the people go, 
as the Lord had spoken." What is this saying, 
" As the Lord had spoken," but that God might 
be seen to be true, who had declared beforehand 
that he should be hardened ? If there had been 
any vertibility here, any freeness of will in Pha 
raoh, such as had power to incline towards either 
side ; God could not with such certainty have 
foretold his induration but since the Promiser 
here is one who can neither be mistaken, nor tell 
a lie, it was necessarily and most assuredly to 
come to pass, that he should be hardened ; and 
this could not be, unless the induration were alto 
gether without the limits of man s power, and 
stood only in the power of God : just as I have 
described it above ; to wit, God w r as certain that 
he should not omit the general exercise of his 
omnipotency in the person of Pharaoh, or because 
of Pharaoh ; seeing, it is what he even cannot 

Furthermore, he was equally sure that the will 
of Pharaoh, naturally wicked and averse from 
Him, could not consent to the word and work of 
God which was contrary to it ; so that, whereas 

8 Luther circumscribes the design. Doubtless, God would 
comfort and encourage his people by these acts and predic 
tions : but self-manifestation was His one ultimate object ; and 
in order to this, the confounding, and the rendering yet more 
inexcusable, of his enemies, as well as the emboldening of his 
beloved ones. Was there not "also a manifestation of what 
human nature is, hereby made in his own people r Did they all 
believe, after all these signs ? Whence those hankerings after 
Egypt ? Whence those, " It had been better for us to have 
served the Egyptians ?" The whole is resolvable into that 
great first principle, God shewing what he is, by his dealings 
with the human nature as exhibited both in the elect and in 
the reprobate in his friends and in his enemies. But what a 
maze, or rather what a mass of inconsistency, is this history, and 
not this history only but all the Bible, without that principle ? 


PART iv. the impulse to will was preserved inwardly in 
1 Pharaoh by God s omnipotency, and a contradic 

tory word and work of God was thrown to meet 
it from without/ nothing else could be the result, 
but a stumbling and a hardening of the heart, 
in Pharaoh. For, if God had omitted the acting 
of his omnipotency in Pharaoh at the moment 
when he threw the contradictory message of 
Moses into his path, and if Pharaoh s will be 
supposed to have acted itself alone, by its own 
power ; then possibly there might have been 
ground for questioning to which of the two sides 
it would have inclined itself. But now, seeing 
that he is driven and hurried along to an act of 
willing no violence, it is true, being done to his 
will, because he is not forced against his will ; but 
a natural operation of God hurrying him away to 
a natural acting of his will, such an one as it is, 
and that is a bad one it follows that he cannot 
but run foul u of the word, and by so doing be 
hardened. Thus, we see that this text fights 
manfully against Freewill : inasmuch as God who 
promises cannot lie ; and if he does not lie, Pha 
raoh s heart cannot but be hardened. 

I Occursu oljecto.~\ It is contrived that this word and work 
of God should come into contact with the edge of the will 
excited into action by omnipotency, through an act like that of 
throwing a bone to a dog, or casting a stumbling-block in the 
path of a traveller. 

II ImplngereJ] Imp. (se scilicet subaudito) est ire impac- 
tum, prsecipitem ferri in aliquid. Here, as before, we have 
God s actuation, the man s will, and the trying, provoking dis 
pensation. But there seems a little confusion in the admission 
concerning the man s (Pharaoh s) own will, as separated from 
the divine impulse. He seems now to make the crisis of the 
evil lie there. I can understand that there might be inertness 
in the case which he supposes : but if there be an act of will, 
in an essentially bad will, I cannot understand how it should be 
other than evil. (See above, note k .) The case is merely 
hypothetical, put for the sake of illustration (but, like many 
other intended illustrations, confusing rather than distinguish 
ing the object on which it would shine), and impossible : for 
God acts always, and therefore actuates the wicked always j 
that is, keeps them in their place and state as moral agents 
which is a state of activity. 


But let us look at Paul also, who adopts this SE.XVIII. 

passage from Moses in Rom. ix. How sadly is 

Diatribe tormented here ; she twists herself into aul s re ~ 
all manner of shapes, to avoid losing Freewill, this pas- 
One while she says it is the necessity of a conse- sa s e ? 
fjuence, but not the necessity of a consequent. Diatribe 
One while it is an ordered will, or will signified/ hard put to 
which may be resisted ; whereas a will of good Jo" 
pleasure is that which cannot be resisted ! One 
while the passages adduced from Paul do not 
oppose Freewill, because they do not speak of the 
salvation of man. One while the foreknowledge 
of God presupposes * necessity; another while it 
does not. One while grace prevents the will 
causing it to will accompanies it on its way, 
and gives the happy issue. One while the first 
cause effects every thing; another while it acts 
by second causes, itself doing nothing. By these 
and such like mocking words, she only aims to 
get time, and to snatch the cause meanwhile out of 
pur sight, and drag it some whither else. She 
gives us credit for being as stupid and heartless, 
.or as little interested in the cause, as she herself 
iis. Or as little children, when frightened or at 
play, cover their eyes with their hands, and think 
nobody sees them, because they see nobody; 
>,even so Diatribe, not being able to bear the rays, 
or rather the lightnings, of the clearest possible 
words, uses all sorts of pretences to make it ap 
pear that she does not see the real truth; that 
she may persuade us, if possible, to cover our 
yes, so as not even to see it ourselves. But all 
:hese are the marks of a convinced mind, which 

Ordinatam sen voluntatem signi.~] The distinction amounts 
o that of regulated and absolute: will limited and re 
strained by ordinance, or by some outward sign which has 
evealed it ; and will of pure, uncontrolled good pleasure. The 
brmer of these, it is intimated, may be resisted ; the latter 

x I understand ponit in a logical sense, takes for granted 5* 
issumes as a datum. 


PART IV. struggles rashly against invincible truth. That 
figment of the necessity of a consequence as 
differing from the necessity of a consequent, has 
been confuted already. (Part i. Sect, xi.) Let 
Diatribe invent and re-invent, cavil and re-cavil, 
as much as she pleases, if God foreknew that 
Judas would be a traitor, Judas necessarily be 
came a traitor ; nor was it in the power of Judas, 
or of any creature, to do otherwise, or to change 
his will, though he did what he did by an act of 
willing, and not by compulsion. But to will that 
act was the operation of a substance which God 
put into motion by his own omnipotency, as he 
also does every thing else. For it stands as an 
invincible and self-evident proposition, that God 
neither lies, nor is mistaken. The words under; 
our consideration are not obscure or doubtful 
words, although all the learned of all ages may 
have been blind; so as to understand and inter 
pret them otherwise. Prevaricate as much as 
you may, your own conscience, and that of all 
men, is compelled to acknowledge, if God be nots 
mistaken in that which he foreknows, the very 
thing foreknown must necessarily take place. 
Else who could trust his promises, who Avould 
fear his threatenings, if what he promises or 
threatens do not necessarily follow ? or, how 
can he promise or threaten, if his foreknowledge 
deceives him, or can be thwarted by our muta 
bility? This excessive light of undoubted truth 
manifestly stops every mouth, puts an end to all 
questions, and decrees a victory in spite of all 
evasive subtilties. We know very well that the 
foreknowledge of man is beguiled. We know 
that an eclipse does not happen because it is 
foreknown, but is foreknown because it is going 
to happen. But what have we to do with this 
sort of foreknowledge ? we are arguing about 
the foreknowledge of God. Deny to this the 
necessity of the thing foreknown being effected, 


and you take away the faith and fear of God ; SEC.XIX. 

you throw down all God s promises and threaten- 

ings; nay, you deny the very being of God. 
But even Diatribe herself, after a long struggle, 
in which she has tried all her arts, is at length 
compelled by the force of truth to make confession 
of our sentiment, and says; 

The question about the will and purpose of Diatribe s 
God is a more difficult one. For God wills the sionTand 
same things which he foreknows. And this is retractions 
what Paul subjoins; " Who resisteth his will, if ex P sed - 
he pitieth whom he will, and hardeneth whom he 
will?" For if he were a king, he would do what 
he liked, so that no one should be able to resist 
him; he would be said to do what he would. 
Thus the will of God, as being the principal cause 
of all events, seems to impose a necessity upon 
our will. This is what she says. 

And I thank God that Diatribe has at last 
recovered her senses. What is become of Free 
will now ? But this eel slips again out of our 
hands, by saying in a moment ; 

But Paul does not resolve this question; on 
the contrary, he chides the inquirer ; nay, but O 
itnan, who art thou that repliest against God? 

O exquisite evasion ! Is this what you call hand- 

iling the word of God? to deliver a mere ipse dixit 

in this manner, by your own sole authority, of your 

own head, without producing testimonies of Scrip- 

jture, without working miracles? let me rather say, 

thus to corrupt some of the clearest words that God 

ever spake ? Paul does not resolve this question : 

jvvhat is he doing then ? He chides the inquirer/ 

|$ays she. Is not this chiding the most complete 

resolution of the question ? What was in fact 

jisked in this question concerning the will of God? 

Was it not asked whether he puts a necessity 

ipon our will ? Paul answers, that " Thus (that 

s, because he does so) he hath mercy (He says) 

)n whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he 


PART iv, hardeneth. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him 

that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." y 

Not content with having resolved the question, 
Jie moreover introduces those who, in opposition 
to this answer, murmur for Freewill prating, that 
neither is there any such thing as merit, neither 
are w r e condemned by any fault of our own ; and 
the like for the very purpose of putting a stop 
to their indignation and murmurs ; saying, 

" Thou sayest then unto me, why doth he yet 
find fault ? For who shall resist his will 1" Do 
you notice the personification ? z They, upon hear 
ing that the will of God imposes a necessity upon 
us, blasphemously murmur and say, Why doth 
he yet find fault? that is, why doth God so press, 
so drive, so demand, so complain? why doth he 
accuse? why doth he condemn? as if we men 
could do what he demands, if we pleased. He 
has no just cause for this complaint let him 
rather accuse his own will there let him prefer 
his complaint there let him press and drive. 
For who shall resist his will? who can obtain 
mercy, when he does not choose they should? 
who can melt himself, if it be his will to harden ? 
It does not lie with us to change His will, much 
less to resist it: that will chooses that we should 
be hardened; by that will we are compelled to be 
hardened whether we will or no. 

If Paul had not resolved this question, or had 

y Luther makes some confusion in the order of the verses, 
putting the 18th in the place of the 15th. But his argument 
is not dependent upon the transposition. The more explicit 
testimony of verse 18 is implied in verse 15 ; but verse 18 
precedes both the cavil and the reproof. 

z Prosopopoeia. ] The introducing of imaginary persons: 
literally,, the making of persons ; a well-known figure of 
rhetoric. Paul had before been simply stating truth in plain 
language. Now he brings in a supposed objection. Luther 
asks Erasmus whether he notices this ? It was essential to his 
correct understanding of the passage, that he should have 
remarked this change in the Apostle s mode of address : that 
he does personify, and wltat sort of persons he fabricates. 


not unequivocally determined that a necessity is SEC.XIX. 

imposed upon us by the divine prescience, what 

need was there to introduce persons as murmur 
ing and alleging that it is impossible to resist 
his will? For who would murmur or be indig 
nant, if he did not think that this necessity 
had been determined? The words in which he 
speaks of resisting the will of God are not ob 
scure. Is it doubtful what he means by resisting, 
or by will; or of whom he speaks, when he 
speaks of the will of God? Let unnumbered 
thousands of the most approved doctors be blind 
here, and let them feign that Scripture is not 
clear, and let them be afraid of a difficult ques^ 
tion. We have got some most clear words, of this 
import ; " He pitieth whom he will ; whom he will, 
he hardeneth." Also, " Thou sayest to me there 
fore, why doth he find fault ? who shall resist his 
will ? 

Nor is it a difficult question ; nay, nothing can 
be plainer to common sense than that this conse- . 
quence is certain, solid and true : f If God fore 
knows an event, it necessarily comes to pass ; 
when it has been presupposed, upon the testi 
mony of Scripture, that God neither errs nor is 
deceived/ I confess that the question is a diffi 
cult one nay, one which it is impossible to re 
solve if you should in the same instant determine 
,0 maintain both God s foreknowledge and man s 
iberty. For what is more difficult, or rather more 
mpossible, than to contend that contradictions 
ind contraries are not at variance with each other; 
>r that a number is at the same time ten and 
line ? There is no difficulty in the question we 
ire handling, but the difficulty is gone after and 
i .. . 

a Errat.faUitur.~\ Err. a mistake in his own apprehensions. 
all. appearances beguile him. It is not disappointment as to 
lie event, which is the subject of remark here ; but an ob- 
jct seen afar off made to appear different from what it really 


PART IV. brought in, just as ambiguity and obscurity are 

gone after and introduced by violence into the 

Scriptures. So then, he stops the mouths of those 
wicked ones who have been offended by those 
most plain words (and why offended, but be 
cause they perceive that the divine will is ful 
filled by means of our necessity, and because 
they perceive it to have been unequivocally deter 
mined that there is nothing of liberty or of Free 
will left to them, but that all things are depend 
ent upon the will of God only) ; he stops their 
mouths I say, but it is by bidding them be still, 
and reverence the Majesty of the divine power 
and will, b over which we have no right of control, 
whilst it has full power over us, to do what 
seemeth it good : not that there is any injury done 
to us by its operations, since it owes us nothing; 
having received nothing from us, and having pro 
mised nothing to us but just so much as it chose 
and was pleased to do. 
SEC. xx. Here then is the place, here is the time, for 

adoring, not the fictitious inhabitants of those 

Where Corycian caves, but the real IMajesty of God in 
encelbr " his fearful wonders, and in his incomprehensible 
the Scrip- judgments ; and for saying <f Thy will be done, 
tm-es hes. ag n j ieaven ^ so j n earth." On the other hand, 

we are never more irreverent and rash, than when 
we attempt and accuse these very mysteries and 
judgments, which are unsearchable. Meanwhile, 
we imagine that we are exercising an incredible 
degree of reverence in searching the holy Scrip 
tures. Those Scriptures, which God has com 
manded us to search, \ve do not search in one 
direction ; but in another, in which he has for 
bidden us to search them, we do nothing but 

b MajestatemJ] A form of expression common amongst men, 
with application to earthly potentates. His Majesty does 
so and so. It is a sort of personification of the sovereign s 
state, power, and excellency. So here, of God s power and 


search them with a perpetual temerity, not to say SEC. xx. 

blasphemy. Is it not such a search, when we 

rashly endeavour to make that most free fore 
knowledge of God accord with our liberty ; and 
are ready to detract from the prescience of God if 
it do not leave us in possession of liberty ; or, if 
it induce necessity, to say with the murmurers 
and blasphemers, Why doth he yet find fault? 
who shall resist his will? what is become of the 
most merciful God ? what is become of Him 
who willeth not the death of a sinner ? Has 
he made us that he might delight himself with 
man s torments ? and the like ; which shall be 
howled out for ever amongst the devils and the 
damned ? 

But even natural reason is obliged to confess, 
that the living and true God must be such an one 
as to impose necessity upon us, seeing he himself 
is free : as for instance, that he would be a 
ridiculous God, or more properly an idol, if he 
should either foresee future things doubtfully, or 
be disappointed by events ; when even the Gen 
tiles have assigned irresistible fate to their gods. a 
He would be equally ridiculous, if he had not 
power to do all things, and did not effect all 
things; or if any thing be really brought to pass 
without him. Now if the foreknowledge and 
iOinnipotency of God be conceded, it follows natu 
rally, by an undeniable consequence, that we were 
not made by ourselves, neither do we live by 
ourselves, neither do we perform any thing by 
ourselves, but all through His omnipotency. And 
Inow, since he both knew beforehand that we 
should be such a sort of people, and goes on to 
make us such, and to move and govern us as 
such ; what can be imagined in us, pray, that is 

c Faium in-elnctnlile. ] Even those, who made the fatal sis 
ters superior to Jupiter himself, still had an uncontrolled 
jrdainer of events ; inexorable, infallible, invincible fate. 




PART IV. free to have a different issue given to it from that 

which he foreknew,, or is now effecting? 

So that God s foreknowledge and omnipotency 
are diametrically opposite to man s Freewill. For 
either God will be mistaken in his foreknowledge, 
and disappointed in his actings (which is impos 
sible), or we shall act, and act according to his fore 
knowledge and agency. By the omnipotency of 
God, I mean not a power by which he might do many 
things which he does not; but that acting omni 
potency, by which he doeth all things, with power, 
in all things : it is after this manner, that the 
Scripture calls him omnipotent. This omnipo 
tency and prescience of God, I say, absolutely 
abolishes the dogma of Freewill. Nor can the 
obscurity of Scripture, or the difficulty of the 
subject, be made a pretext* 1 here. The words are 
most clear, even children know them: the subject 
matter is plain and easy; one which approves 
itself even to the natural judgment of common 
sense : so that, let your series of ages, times and 
persons, who write and teach otherwise, be never 
so great, it profiteth you nothing. 
SEC.XXI. This common sense, or natural reason, is most 

highly offended forsooth, that God should leave 

What car- men ^ should harden them, should damn them, of 

his own sheer will; as if he were delighted with 
the sins and torments of the wretched, which are 
so great and eternal : whereas he is declared to be 
a God of so great mercy and goodness. It has 
been deemed unjust, cruel and insufferable to 
entertain such a sentiment concerning God ; with 
which so many, and those such great men, during 
so many ages, have also been offended. And 
who would not be offended? I myself have been 

d Pr(Etexi.~] Properly, a fine web of art spread before a sub 
stance to cover, or disguise it. Judidum naturale, like ratio 
naturalis above, opposes natural to spiritual. The conclu 
sions are so obvious, that we need not the Spirit to draw them. 

nal reason 


offended at it, more than once, to the very depth, SEC.XXI 
and lowest depth of despair, so as to wish that I 
had never been created a man : until I learned 
how salutary that despair was, and how near of 
kin to grace. Hence all this toil and sweat in 
putting forward the goodness of God, and accus 
ing the will of man: here lay the discovery of 
those distinctions between God s regulated and 
absolute will, between the necessity of a conse 
quence and of a consequent, and much of like 
kind ; which have produced no result however, 
save that the ignorant have been imposed upon 
by " vain babblings, and by oppositions of science 
falsely so called." Still there has always re 
mained this sting infixed in the deep of their 
hearts, both to the learned and to the unlearned, 
if ever they have come to be serious ; that they 
could not believe the prescience and omnipotency 
of God without perceiving our necessity. 

Even natural reason, though offended by this 
necessity, and making such vast efforts to remove 
it, is compelled to admit its existence, through 
the conviction of her own private judgment; which 
would be the same, even if there were no Scrip- 

f 4byssum.~\ Alyssus est profunditas uquarum impenetrabilis, 
sive speluncce aquarum latentium, de quibus fontes et ihimina 
procedunt, vel qurc occulte subtereant. Hence applied to the 
abyss. " They besought him that he would not command 
ithem to go out into ihe abyss. (Gr.) " Art thou come hither 
Ito torment us before the time ?" Luther had felt the very hell 
of despair. 

And in the lowest deep, 
A lower deep still threatening to devour me 
Opens wide. 

f Pro cxcusandd bonitate Dei."] Excus. Item, in cxcnsa- 
jtionem affero. For regulated and absolute will see above, 
Sect. xix. where he distinguishes these as rolunt. ordin. scu signi, 
md volunt. placiti. For consequence and consequent, see Part i. 
Sect xi. 

g 1 Tim. vi. 20. avnOcacis. Doctrina opposite, quaestio 
juae ad disceptandum proponitur. Not what is commonly un- 
lerstood by opposition ; but men setting out to canvass doe- 
Tines with a great display of school-learning, and maintaining 
.heses which were opposite to the truth. 


PART IV. ture. For all find this sentiment written in their 

hearts, so as to recognise and approve it, even 

against their will, when they hear it discussed : 
first, that God is omnipotent, not only in what he 
is able to do, but also in what he actually does, 
as I have said ; h else he would be a ridiculous 
God : secondly, that he knows and foreknows all 
things, and can neither mistake, nor be misled. 
These two things being conceded through the 
testimony of their heart and senses, by and by 
they are compelled to admit by an inevitable 
consequence, that we were not made by our own 
will, but by necessity; and hence, that we do not 
any thing in right of Freewill, but just as God 
hath foreknown and doth direct us, by a counsel 
and an energy which is at once infallible and 
immutable. So then, we find it written at once 
in all hearts that there is no such thing as Free 
will : although this writing be obscured, through 
the circumstance of so many contrary disputa 
tions, and so many persons of such vast authority 
having, for so many ages, taught differently. Just 
as every other law, which (according to Paul s 
testimony) has been written in our hearts, is 
recognised when rightly handled, but obscured, 
when distorted by ungodly teachers and laid hold 
of by other opinions. 1 

sc. xxii. I return to Paul. Now, if he be not solving 
ihis question, and concluding human necessity 
from the prescience and will of God, what need 

Paul s ar 

h See above, Sect. xx. 

1 Paul s testimony can only respect the fact that a law may 
be written in our hearts, which is not outwardly taught and 
professed : for it is neither the same law, of which Paul 
speaks ; neither does he testify any thing- about the handling 1 , 
or about the recognition of that law. (Rom. ii. 13 16.) 
Luther supposes this law of necessity to lie at the bettom of 
our hearts, so that, when we hear it duly and truly set out, we 
by the exercise of our natural powers accord with it ; whilst 
it may be made illegible, and effaced, by false teaching and 


has he to introduce the simile of the potter sc. xxn. 
making, out of one and the same lump, one vessel - 
to honour and another to dishonour? Yet the 

thing- made doth not say to its maker why hast dishonest 
thou made me thus ? It is men that he is and cow- 
speaking of: whom he compares to clay, and JJjJJj d 
God to the potter. There is no meaning in the escape, but 
comparison ; nay, it is absurd and adduced to cannot - 
no purpose, if he do not mean that our liberty is 
nothing. Nay, Paul s whole argument in support 
of grace is abortive. The very scope of his * 
whole Epistle is to shew that we can do nothing, 
yea even then, when we seem to be doing good ; 
as he saith in the same place, how that Israel, 
by following after righteousness, hath not how 
ever attained to righteousness; but the Gentiles, 
which followed not, have attained to it : k of 
which I shall speak more at large when I produce 
my own forces. 

But Diatribe, disguising the whole body of 
Paul s argument, together with its scope, consoles 
herself meanwhile with garbled and corrupted 
words. 1 It is nothiug to Diatribe, that Paul after 
wards, in Rom. xi. exhorts them, on the other 
hand; saying, " Thou standest by faith ; see that 
thou art not lifted up." And again : " They also, 
if they believe, shall be gralfed in," &c. He says 
nothing there about the powers of man ; but uses 
imperative and conjunctive verbs, the effect of 
which has been sufficiently declared already." 1 

k Rom. ix. 30. I have not marked the words as a Scripture 
quotation, because they are not exact. He says in the same 
place : the intervening verses are all dependent upon verse 24, 
being so many quotations to shew, that it was God s avowed 
purpose to call a body of Gentiles into his church, and to save 
only a remnant of Israel. 

1 Excisis et depravatis.~\ Exc. words cut out from the text, 
in which they stand connected with others. Depr. turned 
awry, f made crooked ; their meaning, through this violent 
separation, distorted and polluted. 

m See above, Part iii. Sect, xxxiv. 


PART iv. Nay, Paul himself, in the very same place, as if 
to prevent the vaunters of Freewill, does not say 
that they can believe; but, " God is able to graft 
them in," says he. To be short, Diatribe proceeds 
with so trembling and hesitating a step in handling 
these texts from Paul s writings, that she seems, 
in conscience, to dissent from even her own words. 
For, in those places where she ought most of all 
to have gone on and proved her doctrine, she 
almost always breaks off the discourse with a 
But enough of this ; or, < I will not investigate 
this point now ; or, f It is no part of this subject; 
or, They would say so and so ; and many like 
expressions." Thus she leaves the matter in the 
midst, making it doubtful whether she would 
rather seem to be standing up as a champion 
for Freewill, or only to be shewing her skill in 
parrying off Paul with vain words." All this she 
does after a law and manner of her own ; as one 
who is not in earnest whilst pleading this cause. 
But we ought not to be thus indifferent ; thus to 
skim the ears of corn; thus to be shaken like a 
reed with the winds : but, first to assert con 
fidently, steadfastly, fervently; and then to de 
monstrate by solid, apposite, and abundant proof 
the doctrine we maintain. p 

Then again, how exquisitely does she contrive 
to preserve liberty in union with necessity, when 
she says, Nor does every sort of necessity exclude 
freedom of will. As for instance, God the Father 
necessarily begets the Son; but he begets him 
willingly and freety, inasmuch as he is not com 
pelled to beget him. Are \ve disputing now, 

n Excutiam. instituti. ] Excut. concutere, scrutamli ct cxplo- 
randi causa. Inst. scopus, proposition, inceptum. irpoaipeatf 

Pro libero arbitrio dicer e. Eludere Paulnm. 

P Super arhtas incedere.~] See above, Part iii. Sect. vi. note b . 
Certo opposed to hesitatingly ; constanter, to variableness 
of statement; ardenttr, to indifference; solidc, to insub 
stantial; dextrc, to a clumsiness, and want of address; 
copiose, to scantiness of materials. 


pray, about compulsion and force ? Have I not sc. xxil. 
in all my writings testified, that I speak of a 
necessity of immutability? 1 I know that the 
Father willingly begets; I know that Judas be 
trayed Christ through an act of his will. But I 
affirm that this will was about to be in this very 
Judas, certainly and infallibly, if God foreknew it. 
If what I affirm be not yet sufficiently understood, 
let us refer one sort of necessity that of vio 
lence to the work; another sort of necessity 
that of infallibility to the time. Let him who 
hears me understand me to speak of the latter of 
these two necessities, not of the former ; that is, 
I am not discussing whether Judas became a 
traitor willingly or unwillingly, but, whether at 
the time fore-appointed of God it must not infal 
libly come to pass, that Judas, by an act of his 
own will, betrays Christ. 

But see what Diatribe says here : If you 
look at the infallible foreknowledge of God, Judas 
was necessarily to become a traitor ; but Judas 
might have changed his will/ Do you even know 
what you are saying, my Diatribe? To omit, 
what has been already proved, that the will can 
but choose evil; how could Judas change his will 
in consistency with the infallible foreknowledge 
of God ? could he change the foreknowledge of 
God, and make it fallible? Here Diatribe gives 
in, deserts her standard, throws away her arms, 
and flies; referring the discussion, as none of hers, 
to those scholastic subtilties which distinguish 
between the necessity of a consequence and the 
necessity of a consequent:" a sort of quibble 

i See above, Part iii. Sect, xxxvii. note h . 

1 In consistency with what has been said before (Part i. 
Sect, xi.), but with a minute variety in the application, Judas s 
treachery, they would say, was necessary, but he was not 
a necessary traitor : he must betray, but not therefore ne 
cessarily ; that is, according to their account of the matter, 


PART IV. which she has no mind to pursue. It is very 
prudent in you doubtless, after having conducted 
your cause all the way into the midst of a crowded 
court 5 when now a pleader is most of all neces 
sary to turn your back, and leave the business of 
replying and defining 1 to others. You should 
have acted this counsel from the first, and 
abstained from writing altogether ; according to 
that saying, ( The man who knows not how to 
contend abstains from the weapons of the field/" 
It was not expected of Erasmus, that he should 
remove v that difficulty, how God with certainty 
foreknows, yet our actions are contingent/ This 
difficulty was in the world long before Diatribe s 
time. But it was expected that he should reply 
and define. However, being himself a rheto 
rician, whilst we know nothing about it, he calls 
in a rhetorical transition to his aid, and carrying 
us ignoramuses along with him, as if the matter 
in debate were one of no moment, and the whole 
discussion were mere quirk and quibble, dashes 
violently out of the midst of the crowd, wearing 
his crown of ivy and laurel." 

s The mediae turbac are the multitudes surrounding the 
judicial tribunal: non usitaih. frequentid stipati sumus. Cic. 
Perduxeris expresses the pomp and the labour with which 
he had dragged on the cause to issue. 

I Respondendi et definiendi. ] Rcsp. has respect to the adver 
sary s argument, which should be invalidated or taken off : 
defin. is the explanatory statement of the advocate s own case. 
See above, Part i. Sect. ix. 

II Hor. Art. Poet, v. 379. 

v Moveret.~\ There is a peculiar force, if I mistake not, in 
moveret : he does not say remoA e, though I have ventured, 
with good authority, to give it that force ; rather, it is a heavy 
body which he cannot wag. 

x Luther thus ridicules his claim to skill and victory. In 
many sorts of competition, and for many sorts of merit, it was 
customary to crown the concmerors with various materials- 
sometimes precious, sometimes of no value as the highest 
tribute of honour which could be received. Here therefore 
he represents Erasmus as crowning himself ,- by a feint of rhe 
toric abandoning his cause, and assuming to be a conquering 


But you have not gained your end by this SECT. 
stratagem, brother ! There is no skill in rhetoric XXIIL 
so great as to be able to deceive a sincere con 
science : the sting of conscience is mightier than 
eloquence with all her powers and figures. We 
shall not suffer the rhetorician to pass on here to 
another topic, that he may hide himself: it is not 
the place for this exhibition. The hinge of the 
several matters in dispute, and the head of the 
cause is attacked here : it is here that Freewill 
is either extinguished, or shall gain a complete 
triumph. But instead of meeting this crisis, no 
sooner do you perceive your danger, or rather 
perceive that the victory over Freewill is sure ; 
than you pretend to see nothing but metaphysical 
subtilties in the question. Is this acting the part 
of a trusty theologian? Are you serious in the 
cause ? How comes it then, that you both leave 
your hearers in suspense, and the discussion in a 
state of confusion and exasperation.- Still how 
ever, you would be thought to have done your 
work very honourably, and would seem to have 
carried off the palm. Such cunning and wili- 
ness z may be endurable in profane causes; but in 
theology, where simple and undisguised truth is 
the object of pursuit that souls may be saved 
it is most hateful and intolerable. 

The Sophists also have felt the invincible and Much joy 
insupportable force of this argument ; and have J^^ ^ 
therefore feigned this distinction between the Diatribe in 

Bacchus, and an unrivalled Apollo, by wearing the emblems 
of those divinities. 

y Pertiirbatum ct exaspcratum."] Perturb, implies want of order 
and distinctness ; no first, second, and third, either in reply 
or advancement : exasp. the heat and ruffle with which it is 
maintained ; we speak of angry debate. 

z f afrifia ct rersutia.~\ Vof. expresses the subtile invention 
which devises ; vcrsut. the versatility and adroitness with which 
the crafty counsel is executed : opposed afterwards by simplex, 
what is inartificial ; and apcrta, what is manifest to the 


PART iv. necessity of a consequence and of a consequent : 

but how fruitless this distinction is, has been 

then- ne- s h ewn already. a They also, like yourself, are not 
aware what they say, and how much they admit 

a conse 

quent, against themselves. For, if you allow the neces 
sity of a consequence, Freewill is vanquished and 
laid prostrate, and is nothing aided by the conse 
quent s being either necessary or contingent. 
What is it to me, that Freewill does what she 
does willingly and not by compulsion? it is enough 
for me that you concede, e it must necessarily be 
that Judas do willingly what he does ; and that 
the event cannot be otherwise, if God hath so 
foreknown it. If God foreknows that Judas will 
betray the Lord, or that he will change his will to 
betray him ; whether of the twain he shall have 
foreknown vwill necessarily come to pass : else 
God will be mistaken in his foreknowings and 
foretellings ; which is impossible. The necessity 
of the consequence effects this ; if God foreknows 
an event, that very event necessarily happens. 
In other words, Freewill is a nothing. This 
necessity of the consequence is neither ob 
scure, nor ambiguous : if the great doctors in all 
ages have even been blind, they must still be 
obliged to admit its existence, since it is so mani 
fest and so certain as to be palpable. 5 

But the necessity of the consequent, with which 
they comfort themselves, is a mere phantom, and 
fights, as the saying is, diametrically with the ne 
cessity of the consequence. For example ; it is 
the necessity of a consequence, if I say God 
foreknows that Judas will be a traitor ; therefore 
it will certainly and infallibly come to pass, that 
Judas is a traitor. In opposition to this neces- 

a See above, note r . 

b PalpariJ] What you may stroke with the hand. The 
gentlemen which have no eyes may still receive sense-testi 
mony to it. 


sity of the consequence, you console yourself in SECT. 
this way: But since Judas may change his will to xxiv. 
betray; therefore there is no necessity in the con- " 
sequent. I demand of you, how these two asser 
tions agree with each other : Judas may not be 
willing to betray; and it is necessary, that 
Judas be willing to betray/ Do they not directly 
contradict and fight against each other ? He 
shall not be compelled (say you) to betray, against 
his will/ What is this to the purpose ? You 
have been affirming something about the necessity 
of a consequent; that it is not rendered necessary, 
forsooth, by the necessity of the consequence ; 
but you have affirmed nothing about the compul 
sion of the consequent. Your answer ought to 
have been touching the necessity of the conse 
quent; and you produce an example which shews 
compulsion in the consequence. I ask one ques 
tion and you reply to another. All this is the 
produce of that half asleep half awake state of 
mind, in which you do not perceive how perfectly 
inefficient that device is, the necessity of a con 

So much for the first of the two passages ; d The other 
which respects the induration of Pharaoh, and admi "ed 

text de- 

c Comme)itum.~] The subtilty means Judas has still a -will, 

which is not forced ; therefore there is Freewill still. Who 

says forced? But can it choose otherwise? A will, that 

i can only make one choice, is in bondage. The example of 

Judas is introduced by Erasmus, not Luther. 

d See Part iv. Sect. i. The course of this long, elaborate, 
and invincible argument may be traced by the side notes 
attached to each section ; but the reader will forgive me if I 
endeavour to assist him by the following short summary. 
Erasmus endeavours to evade this plain text by a trope. 
1. Tropical interpretations are generally inadmissible. 2. Ab 
surdity of the proposed one. 3. It does not remove the diffi 
culty. 4. Certain illustrations objected to. 5. The causes 
assigned for introducing it examined. (>. How God hardens ex 
plained. 7- Diatribe exposed, and Luther s view maintained by 
an appeal to the context. Also, by an appeal to Paul s comment ; 
which introduces Erasmus s evasion and that of the Sophists. 
jln the course of these considerations several topics are ad- 


PART iv. involves all the texts of like kind, amounting to 

a phalanx and that an invincible one. Let us 

now examine the second, about Jacob and Esau ; 
of whom, when not yet born, it was said " The 
elder shall serve the younger." Diatribe evades 
this passage by saying, It has nothing properly 
to do with the subject of man s salvation. God 
may will that a man be a servant or a poor man, 
whether the man will or no, without his being 
rejected from eternal salvation/ 

Nothing See how many side-paths and holes of escape a 
salvation, slippciy mind seeks after, which is intent upon 
So Jerome flying away from truth; but still she does not 
had said. q u jt e accomplish her flight. Let us suppose, if 
you will, that this text does not appertain to 
man s salvation (of which I shall speak hereafter), 
is it to no purpose then, that Paul adduces it? 
Shall we make Paul ridiculous, or absurd, in the 
midst of so serious a discussion ? Howbeit, this is a 
fancy of Jerome s; who, with abundant arrogance 
on his brow, whilst he is committing sacrilege 
with his mouth, has the audacity in more places 
than one to affirm, that those Scriptures which 
oppose in Paul, do not oppose in their proper 
places, from which he quotes them. What is this 
but to say, that, in laying the foundations of 
Christian doctrine, Paul does but corrupt the 
divine Scriptures, and beguile the souls of the 
faithful, by a sentiment which is the coinage of 
his own brain, and which is intruded upon the 
Scriptures by violence ? Such is the honour, 
which the Spirit ought to receive, in the person of 
that holy and choice instrument of God, Paul ! 
Now, whereas Jerome ought to be read with 
judgment, and this saying of his to be classed 

mitted by the way : such as the state of man, limits of inquiry, 
carnal reason s objections, &c. . . . 

e Pugnant.~\ Said Avith reference to some particular doctrine 
not named the doctrine of Freewill doubtless, as maintained 
by Jerome and those who teach like him. 


amongst the many which that gentleman (through SECT. 
his listlessness in studying, and his dulness in XXV- 
understanding Scripture) has written impiously ; 
Diatribe snaps up this very saying without 
any judgment, and does not deign to mitigate 
it, as she might at least do, with a gloss of some 
sort, but both judges and qualifies the Scriptures 
by this saying, as an oracle which precludes all 
doubt. Thus it is, that we take the ungodly say 
ings of men as so many rules and measures for 
interpreting the divine word : and can we any 
longer wonder that it has become ambiguous and 
obscure, and that so many of the Fathers are 
blind to its real meaning, when it is thus made 
impious and profane ? 

Let him be anathema therefore who shall say, p au i de- 
those words do not oppose the doctrine in their fended in 
original places, which do oppose as quoted by GenTxxv. 
Paul. This is said, but not proved ; and is said 2123. 
I by those, who neither understand Paul nor the N thlll f 

-111-1 i- gained by 

passages cited by him, but deceive themselves by supposing 
i taking the words in their own sense; that is, an thc service 
impious one. For although this text in particular 
(Gen. xxv. 21 23.) were meant of temporal ser 
vitude only (which is not true); still it is rightly 
and efficaciously quoted by Paul to prove, that, 
not for the merits of Jacob or of Esau, but through 
him that calleth, it was said to Sarah 8 "The 

f What is, in fact, gained by this distinction ? The prin 
ciple is the same ; God of his sovereign will putting a differ 
ence. Just so it is, with respect to national and personal elec- 
.tion. Yet some seem to think that they have hooked a great 
fish, in discovering, that Great Britain may have been elected to 
hear the Gospel without any of her children having been 
; elected to receive it ! 

8 Sarah. ] Clearly, it should be Rebekah. Sarah was dead 
when this prophecy was delivered, which is expressly said to 
have been delivered to Rebekah. "And she (Rebekah) said, 
[f it be so, &c. And the Lord said unto her." Gen. xxv. 22, 23. 
The preceding mention of Sarah in Rom. ix. accounts for the 


PART IV. elder shall serve the younger." PauPs question 
is, whether they attained to what is said of them 
by the virtue or merits of Freewill ; and he 
proves that, not by the virtue or merits of Free 
will, but only by the grace of him that called 
him, Jacob attained to what Esau did not. This 
he proves by invincible words of Scripture : such 
as, that they were not yet born ; and again, that 
they had done neither good nor evil. The weight 
of the matter lies in this proof ; this is the point 
under debate. But Diatribe, through her ex 
quisite skill in rhetoric, passing over and dis 
guising all these things, does not at all debate the 
question of merits (although she had undertaken 
to do so, and although PauPs handling of the 
subject requires it), but quibbles about tem 
poral servitude (as if this were any thing to 
the purpose) ; only that she may appear not to 
be conquered by those most mighty words of 
Paul. For what could she have to yelp out 
against Paul, in support of Freewill ? what 
profit was there of Freewill to Jacob ? what 
hurt of the same to Esau ? when it had been 
settled by the foreknowledge and ordination of 
God what sort of a lot each of them should re 
ceive : namely, that the one should serve, and the 
other should rule ; when as yet neither of them 
was born, or had done any thing. The rewards, 
which each shall receive, are decreed before the 
workmen are born, and have begun to work. It 
is to this point, that Diatribe ought to have 
directed her reply. This is what Paul insists 
upon, that they had done nothing good or evil 
as yet; but still the one is ordained to be the 
master and the other the servant, by a divine judg 
ment. The question is not, whether this ser 
vitude have respect to eternal salvation, but by 
what merit this servitude is imposed upon a man 
who has not merited any thing. But it is most 


irksome to maintain a conflict with these depraved 11 SECT. 
endeavours to torture and elude Scripture. xxvi. 

Howbeit, that Moses is not treating of their Theservice 
temporal servitude and dominion only, and that is not 
Paul is rig-lit in this also, that he understands him r ^-af bu" 1 " 
to speak with reference to their eternal salvation spiritual, 
(although this be not so important to the point in 
hand, I will not however sutler Paul to be defiled 
with the calumnies of sacrilegious men ), is 
proved from the text itself. The divine answer k 
given to Rebekah in the book of Moses is, " Two 
manner of people shall be separated from thy 
womb ; and the one people shall overcome 
the other people, and the elder shall serve the 
younger/ Here two sorts of people are mani 
festly distinguished from each other. The one 
is received into the free favour of God, although 
the younger, so as to overcome the elder ; not by 
strength, it is true, but through God s befriending 
him. How else should the younger conquer the 
elder, except God were with him ? Now, since 
the younger is about to become the people of 

h Pravls. ] Nearly allied in meaning to the torquendce Scrip 
ture which follows ; what is crooked and awry. No objec 
tion, it is obvious, can be drawn from the statement in this 
paragraph, and from St. Paul s argument, to what has been 
advanced in a former note (see above, Sect. x. note z .) on the 
subject of original sin. The question is about the difference 
.between Jacob and Esau. Both alike fallen and self-destroyed 
In Adam, the question is how either of these receives dis- 
jtinguishing benefits, whether of a temporal or eternal nature. 
|With respect to manifest existence and distinct personal 
Agency, neither of them, it is plain, had done good or evil, 
when the words were spoken to llebekah. That which alone 
coxild constitute any difference on a ground of Freewill or 
merit, there had as yet been no opportunity of displaying. 

1 See last section. The question of Freewill is not affected. 
Erasmus follows Jerome, whom Luther has pronoxmced sacri- 
.egious. . 

k Oraculum.~\ It is said of llebekah, that " she went to in- 
inire of the Lord." Oraculum therefore, an answer, counsel, 
>r sentence from the Gods, 1 is the fit term by which to charac- 
-erise what was said to her. 


PART iv. God, 1 it is not only external dominion or ser- 

vitude, that is treated of here, but every thing 

which appertaineth to the people of God ; that 
is, the blessing of God, the word, the Spirit, the 
promise of Christ, and the eternal kingdom : 
which is even yet more largely confirmed by the 
Scripture afterwards, where it describes Jacob 
as being blessed, and as receiving the promises 
and the kingdom. Paul intimates these several 
things briefly, when he says, " the elder shall 
serve the younger:" sending us back to Moses, 
as one who treats them more at large. So that, 
in opposition to the sacrilegious 111 comment of 
Jerome and Diatribe, you may say, that all the 
passages which Paul adduces fight yet more 
stoutly against Freewill in their original places, 
than in his writings. A remark which holds 


good, not only with respect to Paul, but with re 
spect to all the Apostles ; who quote the Scrip 
tures as witnesses to, and assertors of their doc 
trine. Would not it be ridiculous to quote as a 
testimony, that which testifies nothing, and does 
not bear upon the question ? If those be accounted 
ridiculous amongst philosophers, who prove an 
unknown thing by one yet more unknown, or by 
an argument which is foreign to the subject; 
with what face shall w T e ascribe this absur 
dity to the chief leaders and authors of the doc 
trine of Christ ; on which the salvation of souls 
depends ? especially in those parts of their writ 
ings in which they treat of the main articles of the 

1 Isaac s descendants in the line of Jacob were not only to 
be the typical family the community which shadowed out the 
Lord s elect church but also to be the visible church for a 
season, and to contain within them the true seed : so that all 
the spiritual blessings of God were comprehended in this supe 
riority which is announced as the portion of Jacob. 

m Sacrilegcon."] Qui sacra legit, 1 i. e. furatur. Thus, sacri 
lege is beautifully defined by Johnson to be the crime of 
robbing heaven. Jerome and those who followed him were 
guilty of this. 


faith. But such insinuations become those, who have SECT. 
uo real reverence for the divine Scriptures?" 

That saying of Malachi s which Paul annexes, Dhtribe > s 
" Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," evasions 
she tortures by three distinct productions of her ofiMabc.i. 
industry. The first is, If you insist upon the u bya 
letter/ God does not love as we love ; nor does tlo P e P ut 
he hate any man : since God is not subject to 
affections of this kind/ 

What is it I hear? Is it not made the ques 
tion, how God loves and hates ; instead of why 
he loves and hates ? By what merit of ours he 
loves or hates, is the question. We know very 
well, that God does not hate or love, as we do ; 
since we both love and hate mutably ; but he 
loves and hates according to his eternal and im 
mutable nature : so far is he from being the sub 
ject of accident and affection. And it is this very 
thing which compels Freewill to be a mere no 
thing ; namely, that the love of God towards men 
is eternal and immutable, and his hatred towards 
them eternal ; not only prior to the merit and 
operation of Freewill, but even to the very mak 
ing of the world; and that every thing is wrought 
in us necessarily, according to his having either 
loved us or not loved us, from eternity : insomuch 
that not only the love of God, but even his manner 
of loving, brings necessity upon us. See here 

" Qui sacris scripturis serib non affiduntur.~\ Luther has a 
peculiar use of the word nfficio, or rather afficior, which I recog 
nise here affected to denoting a mind interested in, 
having its affections excited towards an object. 

Triplid industrid tor(]iiet.~] A peculiar use of the word 
industrid which commonly denotes a state, or act, of mind* 
to express ( the result of that act; and this in an unfavour 
able sense : a laboured excogitation, in which there is neither 
genius, nor the Spirit. (See above, Sect. v. note z .) 

p .Si literam urgeasJ] By way of forcing a tropical inter 
pretation of the text, she intimates that the literal cannot pos 
sibly stand. If you drive the letter; that is, force us to take 
it whether we will or no. 


PART iv. what Diatribe s attempts at escape have profited 
- her; every where she but runs aground the more, 
the more she strives to slip away : so unsuc 
cessful a thing is it to struggle against truth. 
But let your trope be allowed : let the love of 
God be the effect of love, and the hatred of God 
the effect of hatred ; are these effects wrought 
without, or beside, q the will of God ? Will you 
also say here, God doth not will as we do; neither 
is he subject to the affection of willing ? If these 
effects take place then, they take place only \vhen 
he wills : and what he wills, that he either loves 
or hates. Tell me then, by what merit on their 
part severally, Jacob is loved and Esau is hated 
before they are born and perform any act? It 
appears therefore, that Paul doth most excellently 
introduce Malachi to support the sentiment of 
Moses (namely, that God called Jacob before he 
was born, because he loved him, and not because 
he was loved before by Jacob, or because he was 
moved by any merit of his to do so); that it might 
be shewn in the case of Jacob and Esau, what 
our Freewill can do/ 

SECT. The second of these laboured excogitations is, 
__ _ that Malachi seems not to be speaking of the 
hatred by which we are eternally damned, but of 

speaks of a temporary affliction. It is a reprehension of 

those wll would build U P Edom. 

Here is a second word of reproach for Paul, 
as doing violence to Scripture : so entirely do we 
cast off our reverence for the majesty of the Holy 
Spirit, if we may but establish our own conclu- 

<J Citra et prater.] More literally, on this side and beyond : 
implying therefore that they are altogether of him and through 
him and to him. 

r Erasmus says it is not love and hate, but the effect of these. 
Luther replies, if effect, it is God s will that effects, and the 
effect is what he approves : he approves one sort of event to 
Jacob therefore, and another to Esau. How much forwarder 
are you ? 


sions. But we will bear this insult for a while. SECT. 


and see what good it does. Malachi speaks of 
temporal affliction. What comes of this ? or 
what is this to the point in hand ? Paul is prov 
ing from Malachi that this affliction was brought 
upon Esau without any merit of his, by the mere 
hatred of God ; that he may conclude Freewill to 
be nothing. Here it is you are pressed : to this 
point you ought to direct your answer. We are 
disputing about merit, you speak of reward ; and 
in such a way as not however to elude what you 
was meaning to elude : nay, in even speaking of 
reward you acknowledge merit. 5 But you pre 
tend that you do not see this. Tell me then, what 
was the cause in the divine mind for loving Jacob 
and hating Esau, when they were not yet in 

I being. Again ; it is false, that Malachi speaks 
only of temporary affliction ; nor is his business 
with the destruction of Edom : you pervert the 
whole meaning of the Prophet by this laboured 
subtilty. The Prophet makes it quite plain what 

i he means, by using the clearest terms : his mean- 
; ing is to upbraid the Israelites with their ingra 
titude, because, whilst he has been loving them, 
j they in return are neither loving him as a father, 
nor fearing him as a master. The fact of his 
i having loved them he proves both by Scripture 
i and by actual performance. For instance, although 

I 1 Jacob and Esau were brothers, as Moses writes 
in Gen. xxv. he had however loved and chosen 
Jacob before he was born (as we have just shewn), 

s To make this text consist with Freewill, there must be 
ground of love and of hate in the personal mind and conduct of 
the two persons. What follows is a muster s view of Malachi s 
prophecy, and decisive as to the question. Judah s reproach is 
that he has been freely, distinguishingly loved, and has been 
so treacherous. The essence of the reproach is the freeness of 
the love : and what is this temporality, which extends from 
generation to generation, and which comprehends as its cen 
tral portion the eternal God had, in opposition to ( not had, 
but had for an enemy ? 



PART iv. but had so hated Esau as to have reduced his 

country to a wilderness. Moreover he hates, 

and persists in hating, with such pertinacity, that, 
after having brought Jacob back from captivity 
and restored him, still he suffered not the Edom- 
ites to be restored ; but, even if they should say 
they would build, himself threatens them with 
destruction. If the Prophet s own plain text 1 
does not contain these things, let the whole world 
charge me with telling a lie. It is not the teme 
rity of the Edomites then, which is reprehended 
here, but the ingratitude (as I have said) of the 
sons of Jacob ; who do not see what he is con 
ferring upon them, and what he is taking away 
from their brothers the Edomites, for no reason 
but because he hates the one, and loves the 

How will it now stand good, that the Prophet 
is speaking of temporary affliction ? when he de 
clares in plain terms, that he is speaking about 
two distinct nations of people, who had descended 
from the two Patriarchs : that the one of these 
had been taken up to be his people, and had been 
preserved ; the other had been abandoned, and 
at length destroyed. Now the act of taking up 
a people as a people, and not taking them up as 
such, has not respect to temporal good or evil 
only, but to every thing. For our God is not the 
God of our temporal possessions only, but of 
every thing we have and look for : nor will he 
choose to be, your God, or to be worshipped by 
you, with half a shoulder, or a limping foot, but 
with all your strength and with all your heart ; so 
as to be your God both here and hereafter, in all 
circumstances, cases, times, and works. 

1 Textusipse apertus Prophsta.] Ipse, without any additions 
of mine ; apertus, what requires no opening to make its mean 
ing clear. 

" Hie odit, illic amat."] More literally, hates in the one 
quarter, and loves in the other. 


The third of these elaborate excogitations is, sc.xxix. 
By a tropological form of expression, he declares 
that he neither loves all the Gentiles nor hates all 
the Jews; but some out of each. By this tro- trope for 
pical interpretation it is made out. says she, that i ews .. and 

1 . f Gentiles. 

this testimony has no voice tor proving neces 
sity, but for repelling the arrogance of the Jews. 
Having made this way of escape for herself, she 
next goes out by it to the length of maintaining, 
that God is said to -hate those who are not yet 
born, inasmuch as he knows beforehand that they 
will do things worthy of hatred. Thus the hatred 
and love of God are no obstacle to Freewill. She 
comes at last to the conclusion, that the Jews 
have been cut oft from the olive tree by the merit 
of unbelief; that the Gentiles have been grafted 
into it by the merit of faith making Paul the 
author of this sentiment and gives hope to them 
that have been cut off, that they shall again be 
grafted in; and fear to them that have been 
grafted in, lest they should be cut off / 

Let me die, if Diatribe knows herself what she 
is saying. But perhaps there is here also some 
rhetorical figure, which teaches scholars to obscure 
the sense, wherever there is any clanger of being- 
entrapped by the word. I see none of those 
tropical forms of speech here, which Diatribe 
imagines to herself in her dreams, but does not 
prove : no wonder then, that the testimony of 
Malachi does not oppose her, if taken in a 
tropological sense ; when it has no such sense at 
all. Again ; our subject of disputation is not 
that cutting oft and grafting in of which Paul , 
speaks afterwards/ when he exhorts. We know 

v I insert the word afterwards to give clearness. It is 
evidently the eleventh chapter to which lie refers. There can 
not be a more pernicious practice in the interpretation of Scrip 
ture (whilst there is scarcely any more common), than that of 
dragging in words which are somewhere thereabouts, but do really 
stand in quite a different connection, and have a perfectly dif- 


PART iv. that men are grafted in by faith, and are cut off 
- by unbelief, and that they are to be exhorted to 
believe, that they may not be cut off. But it does 
not follow from hence, neither is it proved, that 
they can believe or disbelieve through the power 
of the free will : which free will is the subject of 
our debate. We are not discussing who are 
believers and who not ; who are Jews and who 
are heathens ; what follows to believers and to 
unbelievers ; all this belongs to the exhorter. 
Our question is, by what merit, by what work, 
men attain to that faith by which they are grafted 
in ; or to that unbelief by which they are cut off. 
This is what belongs to the teacher. x Describe 
this merit to us. Paul teaches that this befals, 
not by any work of ours, but only by the love 
and hatred of God : and, when it has befallen men 
to believe, exhorts them to perseverance, that 
they may not be cut off. Still, exhortation proves 
not what we can do, but what we ought to do. 
I am forced to use almost more words in with 
holding my adversary from wandering else whi 
ther and leaving his cause, than in pleading the 
cause itself: howbeit, to have kept him to the 
point is to have conquered him ; so clear and in 
vincible are the words which we have under con 
sideration. Hence it is, that he does almost 
nothing else but turn aside from it, hurry away 
in an instant out of sight, and plead another 
cause than that which he had taken in hand. 

She takes her third passage from Isaiah xlv. 
The simile " ^^ 1 the C ^ a 7 sav ^ ^ s potter, what makcst 

ferent scope ; to ascertain the meaning of a proposed text. An 
argument, or rather an illustrative exhortation of the eleventh 
chapter, separated from the preceding by many intervening 
subjects of discussion, is adduced by Erasmus to determine 
the meaning of an express affirmation in the early part of 
the ninth. 

x According to Paul s distinction of offices in Rom. xii. 6 8. 
" Having then gifts, &c. ; or he that teacheth, on teaching ; 
or he that exhorteth on exhortation." 


tliou?" And from Jeremiah xviii. "As the clay is sc. xxx. 

in the hand of the potter, so are ye in my hand." 

These words, again, are much stronger combatants t} l e ^ and 

T i i j.i ji T^ i of the pot- 

Ill raul, she says, than in the .Prophets from ter, Paul 

whence they are taken ; in the Prophets they does not 
are spoken of temporal affliction,, but Paul applies Sp^ai 
them to eternal election and reprobation giving afflictions 
Paul a black-eye for his temerity, or for his evaded 
ignorance. force. 

But, before we see how she proves that neither 
of these passages exclude Freewill, let me first 
observe, that Paul does not appear to have taken 
this passage from the Prophets, nor does Diatribe 
prove that he has. Paul is wont to bring in the 
name of the writer, or to protest that he takes his 
sentiment from the Scriptures : neither of which 
he does here. It is therefore more probable that 
Paul uses this general simile (which different 
writers adopt for the illustration of different 
causes), in a sense of his own, for the illustration 
of the cause which he has in hand. Just as he 
does with that simile, " A little leaven corrupteth 
the whole lump ;" which, in 1 Cor. v., he adapts 
to corruptive manners, and elsewhere casts in the 
teeth of those who were corrupting the word of 
God : just as Christ also makes mention of the 
leaven of Herod and of the Pharisees. So then, 
although the Prophets may speak especially of 
temporal affliction (a point which I decline speak 
ing to now, that I may not be so often occupied 
and put off with questions foreign to the subject); 
still Paul uses it in a sense of his own, against 
Freewill. But, how far it is shewn that Freewill 
is not taken away, if we be clay to the afflicting 
hand of God ; or why Diatribe insists upon this 
distinction; I know not: since it is unquestion 
able, that afflictions come upon us from God against 
our own will, and put us under the necessity of 
bearing them, whether we will or no, nor have 
we it in our own power to avert them ; although 


PART iv. we are exhorted, it is true, to bear them with a 

willing mind/ 
sc.xxxi. But it is worth while to hear Diatribe prose- 

cute her cavil, that Paul does not exclude Free- 

The cavil w ilj j n n j s argumentation, by introducing this 
2Thnii. simile. She objects two absurdities ; one of which 
repelled, she gathers from Scripture, the other from reason. 
The Scriptural one runs thus. 

When Paul had said in 2 Tim. ii. that in a 
great house there are vessels of gold and of sil 
ver and of wood and of earth ; some for honour, 
and some for dishonour ; he presently adds, " if a 
man shall have cleansed himself from these he 
shall be a vessel unto honour, &c." Upon this, 
Diatribe reasons thus : ( What could be more 
foolish than if a man should say to an earthen 
urinal, if thou shalt have purged thyself, thou 
shalt be a vessel of honour? which however would 
be rightly enough said to a cask possessed of 
reason, which has the faculty of accommodating 
itself to the will of its master, when admonished 
what that will is. From these hints she would 
collect that the simile does not square in all 
respects, and is so far parried, as to prove no 
thing. I answer, first, to the exclusion of this 
cavil, that Paul does not say, if a man shall have 
cleansed himself from his own filth, but from 
these ; that is, from the vessels of reproach : so 
that the sense is, if a man shall abide in a state 
of separation from these ungodly teachers, and 
shall not have mixed himself with them, he shall 
be a vessel of honour, &c. But, what if I should 
also grant that this text of Paul s has no more 

> Erasmus says the Prophets speak only of temporal afllic- 
tions. What of this \ You do not disprove bond-will by this 
distinction, if it be just : rather, you adduce an instance of 
bond-will. These afflictions come, lie, remain against our 
will. How much does this shew of freedom ? Voluntarie< 
W T e are taught indeed to make God s pleasure ours ; but, 
whether we be enabled to do so, or not, his pleasure only is 


efficacy than Diatribe wishes to give to it ; that sc.xxxi. 

is, that the simile proves nothing? how will she 

prove that Paul means just, the same thing in that 
passage from Rom. ix. which we are discussing? 
Is it enough, to quote another passage, and to 
have no care at all whether it have the same 
scope or a different one ? There is not any easier 
or commoner failure in the interpretation of Scrip 
ture, as I have often shewn, than that of paral 
lelizing different passages of Scripture, as being 
alike; 7 so that similitude of texts (on the ground 
of which Diatribe here vaunts herself) is even 
more inefficacious than this simile of ours which 
she is confuting. But, not to be contentious, let 
me grant that each of these passages in Paul s 
writings means the same thing : and that a simile 
(which without controversy is true) does not 
always, and in all particulars, square with the 
thing illustrated. Indeed, if it did, it would be 
neither simile nor metaphor, but the very thing 
itself; according to the proverb, Simile halts, 
and does not always run upon all fours/ 

But here is Diatribe s error and offence ; she 

overlooks the cause of the comparison which 

Dught to be looked at more than all the rest, and is 

captious #nd contentious about words : whereas 

the meaning is to be sought, as Hilary says, not 

>nly from the words used, but also from the causes 

which give occasion to them. Thus the force of a 

5i mile depends upon the cause of the simile. Why 

jlien does Diatribe leave out the matter for the sake 

)f which Ppail uses the simile, and catch at what he 

jiays over and above the cause of the simile. 

VVHiat he says, If a man shall have cleansed 

limself, belongs to exhortation ; what he says, In 

i great house are vessels, &c. belongs to teach- 

ng: so that, from all the circumstances of Paul s 

z Velut 

he exact 


similes conptare. } I have given the idea rather than 
word : it is pairing, like horses joined together in 


PART iv. words and sentiment, you would understand him 
to be making* a declaration about the diversity 
and use of vessels. The meaning therefore is, 
Since so many are now departing from the faith, 
we have no consolation but in that we are sure, 
the foundation of God standeth firm, having this 
seal to it ; the Lord knoweth them that are his, 
and every one who calleth upon the name of the 
Lord departeth from iniquity/ Thus far we have 
the cause and the force of the simile ; namely, 
that the Lord knoweth them that are his/ Then 
follows the simile; namely, that there are different 
vessels, some to honour, and some to disgrace/ 
Here ends the doctrine ; namely, ( that vessels do 
not prepare themselves, but their master prepares 
them/ Rom. ix. means also the same thing; that 
the potter hath power, &c/ Thus doth Paul s 
simile remain unshaken, as most efficacious to 
prove that Freewill is nothing before God. a 

After these follows the exhortation, " If any 
man shall have purged himself from these ;" the 
force of which expressions is well known from 
what has been said above. It does not follow from 

a Coram Deo.~] Referring to a distinction which I have 
already objected to (See Part i. Sect. xxv. note ) ; as though 
there were some objects and considerations, with regard to 
which it is not a nothing. Erasmus argues against the con 
clusion drawn from the simile of the potter, chiefly by appeal 
ing to 2 Tim. ii. 20, 21. Luther says, 1. You mistake the 
words " from these." 2. If the simile be inefficacious here, this 
does not prove it so in Rom. ix. You must prove the simili 
tude which you assume. 3. This passage, rightly interpreted, 
does mean the same, and does prove the very thing in dis 
pute. The account which Luther gives of this text, in 
its connection and construction, is perfectly correct. Ruin 
aboundeth ; " the nevertheless solid foundation of God stand 
eth ;" evil does not contradict his Avill and plan, but fulfils it. 
In a great house there are vessels of two sorts. God s eternal 
separation of his people is manifested, realized, and consum 
mated by their own God-enabled voluntary separation in time 
through his Spirit working in due season. 6c/u.e\io<? expresses 
the whole elect church of God laid by him as a sort of huge 
foundation-stone with inscriptions. See Zechar. Hi. 9. 


hence,, that he can therefore cleanse himself: nay, SECT. 
if any thing be proved by these words, it is that 
Freewill can cleanse itself without grace ; since 
he does not say,, if grace shall have cleansed any 
one/ but if he shall have cleansed himself/ 
Abundance however has been said. about impera- 
ive and conjunctive verbs: and the simile, let it 
observed, is not expressed in conjunctive 
verbs, but indicative ; < as there are elect and 
eprobate, so there are vessels of honour and of 
gnominy. In a word, if this evasion be admitted, 
auPs whole argument falls to the ground. To 
what purpose would he introduce persons mur- 
nuring against God as the potter, if the fault 
vere seen to be in the vessel and not in the pot- 
er? Who would murmur at hearing that one 
worthy of damnation is damned ? b 

Diatribe culls a second absurdity from Madam Reason s 
Reason, commonly called Human Reason; namely, c * vl1 f 1 .? 1 
that the fault is not to be imputed to the vessel 
)ut to the potter : especially since he is such a 
ootter as creates the very clay itself and moulds 
t. Here is a vessel cast into eternal fire, says 
Diatribe, which has committed no fault but that 
)f not being its own master/ 

Nowhere does Diatribe more openly betray Set forth 
icrself than in this place. For here is heard, in au ~ 
)ther words it is true, but with the same meaning, 
ivhat Paul represents profane men as saying : 
1 |f Why doth he find fault ? who shall resist his 
f jvill?" This is that verity which reason can 
: jieither apprehend, nor endure. This is what 
>in"ends so many persons of excellent talents, 
eceived for so many ages ! Here forsooth they 
lemand of God that he should act according to 
uman law, and do what seeineth right to them; or 

b On the contrary supposition to that assumed and reasoned 
pon by Paul, the vessel is not the potter s workmanship, as 
aving been made by him just such as he is ; but his own. 
Vhy defend the potter then ? 


PART iv. cease to be God. The secrets of his Majesty 
." shall profit him nothing. Let him give a reason 

why he is God, or why he wills or does what 
hath no appearance of justice ; as you would call 
a cobbler or a tailor to come and stand at your 
judgment-seat. The flesh does not think fit to put 
such an honour upon God as to believe him just 
and good, when he speaks and acts above and 
beyond the rules prescribed in Justinian s Codex, 
or the fifth book of Aristotle s Ethics. Let the 
creative majesty give place to one single dreg 
of his creation, and let the famed Corycian cave 
change places with its spectators, and stand in 
awe of them, not they of it! So then, it is absurd 
that he damns a person who cannot avoid de 
serving damnation : and because this is such an 
absurdity, therefore it must be false that " he hath 
mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he 
will he hardeneth." But he must be brought 
to order, and laws must be prescribed to him, 
that he may not condemn any one who has not 
first deserved it according to our judgment. Thus 
only can they be satisfied with Paul and his 
simile ; namely, by his recalling it, and allowing 
it to have no meaning, but so moderating it, that 
according to Diatribe s explanation, the potter 
here makes a vessel to dishonour, on the ground of 
previous deservings : just as he rejects some Jews 
And con- for unbelief; and takes up the Gentiles for their 
faith. But if God s work be such that he have 
respect to merits, why do they murmur and ex 
postulate ? How come they to say, Why doth 
he find fault? who resisteth his will? What need 
is there for Paul to stop their mouths ? For who 
wonders, I will not say who is indignant or ex 
postulates, if he be condemned of his own desert? 
Again ; what becomes of the power of the potter 
to make what he pleases, if he be subjected to 
merits and laws ? He is not suffered to do what 
he will, but is required to do what he ought, 


Respect to merits is quite at variance with the SECT. 
power and liberty of doing what he pleases : as XXXIIL 
the householder in the parable proves, when he " 
opposes liberty of will in the disposal of his good 
things to the murmurs of his labourers who de 
manded a distribution according to right. These 
are amongst the considerations which invalidate 
Diatribe s gloss. 

But let us suppose pray, that God ought to be Exposed 
such an one as hath regard to merits in the Jjjj^ erby 
damned. Shall we not equally maintain arid allow r , why"* 
that he looks at merits also in the saved. If we cavi . 
have a mind to follow Reason, it is equally unjust SvTtloa * 
that the unworthy be crowned, as that the unwor- of the 
.thy be punished. Let us conclude then, that saved? 
iGod must justify on the ground of previous de- 
servings; or we shall declare him unjust, as being 
(delighted with evil and wicked men, and inviting 
ihein to impiety by crowning them with rewards. 
IBut woe unto us who would then be indeed 
wretched beings if this were our God. For who 
ifchen should be saved ? See how good for nothing 
is the human heart ! When God saves the un 
worthy without merit; nay, when he justifies the 
ungodly with much demerit ; this heart does not 
accuse him of unfairness : this heart does not then 
limperiously demand of him why he wills thus 
;;hough it be most unfair, according to her own c 
tidgment but, forasmuch as it is advantageous 
jind acceptable to herself, she counts this fair 
!md good. But, when he condemns the unde- 
jserving seeing it is disadvantageous to herself 
khis is unfair, this is intolerable: here comes in 
jexpostulation, murmuring, blasphemy. 

You see then that Diatribe and her friends do not 

: udge according to equity in this cause, but accord- 

ng as their interest is affected. If she had regard 

to equity, she would expostulate with God for 

c Luther personifies the heart, or rather the wicked- 
jiess of the heart : which I have therefore ventured to make 


PART iv. crowning the unworthy, just as much as she does 

for condemning the undeserving: she would also 

commend and extol God for condemning the 
undeserving, just as much as she does for 
saving the unworthy. In each case there is 
equal unfairness, if you refer the matter to 
our own judgment ; unless it be not equally 
unrighteous to commend Cain for his murder, and 
make him a king ; as it would be to cast innocent 
Abel into prison, or put him to death. When it 
is found then, that reason commends God for 
saving the unworthy, but finds fault with him for 
condemning the undeserving, she stands con 
victed of not commending God as God, but as 
one who promotes her own personal interest : in 
other words, she looks at self and her own things 
in God, and commends them; not at God and the 
things of God. The truth however is, that if 
you are pleased with God for crowning the un 
worthy, you ought not to be displeased with him 
for condemning the undeserving. If he be just in 
the one case, why not in the other ? In the former 
case, he scatters favour and pity upon the unwor 
thy ; in the latter, he scatters wrath and severity 
upon the undeserving: in both cases excessive 
and unrighteous according to man s judgment, 
but just and true according to his own. For, how 
it be just that lie crowns the unworthy, is incom 
prehensible at present ; but we shall see how, 
when we come to that place, where he will no 
longer be believed, but with open face beheld. So 
again, how it be just that he condemns the unde-j 
serving, is incomprehensible at present; but wei 
receive it as matter of faith, until the Son of ma 

be revealed/ 

d Luther blunders a good deal here, whilst he says many 
excellent things. In dealing with this cavil, the fault then 
is in the potter, he first sets forth its audacity, next repels 
Erasmus s gloss by it, then maintains that it is an interested 
judgment, not a judgment of equity, by which God is con 
demned. Much of the difficulty is, no doubt, resolvable into 


Diatribe however, being sorely displeased with SECT. 
this simile of the potter and the clay, and not a little 

the sovereignty of God ; that sovereignty which is so bitterly must ^ e 
offensive to the carnal mind, whilst without the light of it we understood 
cannot stir a step in God. Whence came creation in all and with quali- 
every part of its wide range j whence come blessing and curs- fications. 
ing, either as foreordained or as fulfilled ; whence come heaven 
and hell, and inhabitants for each ; whence comes the devil, 
whence comes the fall of man ; whence comes sealed ruin on 
the one hand, and whence comes free restoration arid glorifica 
tion on the other ; but from him who makes no appeal to the 
creature for his vindication, but says I have lifted up my hand 
that it shall be so ? But there is a worthy end for all this ; which 
Luther saw not, and therefore did not assign : the sight of which, 
however, makes the difference of a cruel God and a wise one. (See 
Part iii. Sect, xxviii. notes l v x .) It is not true that God con 
demns the undeserving, or that he crowns the unworthy. Luther 
did not discern the mystery of the creation and fall of every 
individual man in Adam (see Part iii. Sect, xxxviii. note l , 
Part iv. Sect. x. note 2 ), neither did he understand the mystery of 
the predestinative counsel. Every individual of the human race 
became a hell-deserving sinner in Adam ; every individual of the 
saved is saved by virtue of new relations assumed by God, and 
given to him in Christ as one previously self-ruined, whom 
Christ has rendered worthy to be taken up from his ruin, by 
having shared it with him. Predestination is fulfilment fore- 
arranged ; as is the execution, such was the covenanted design. 
It is self-destroyed ones therefore that are predestinated to hell ; 
even as it is Christ-made worthy ones that are predestinated to 
life. Luther knew nothing about God s assuming relations, 
much less about his assuming distinct relations ; and shews 
once more how impossible it is to give any consistent account 
of the salvation of the righteous, on the basis of universal 
redemption : such a redemption must leave either partiality in 
God, or merit in man. Luther will have it indignos to avoid 
merit, and therefore leaves God . a respecter of persons. lie 
does not say a word too much about sovereignty, but he puts 
it in its wrong place, and omits what ought to be added to it 
the end for which it is exercised. The place is, God de 
termining to make creatures with opposite destinies some to 
everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt 
vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy. And that we may not 
even in heart murmur here, we must have an adequate end 
shewn to us. It is shewn to as many as have an eye to see it j 
he determines to make, and he does make them, to his own 
glory the manifesting of himself, according to what he really 
is. 1 " What if God, willing, &c." (Rom. ix. 22 24.) In the 
fulfilment of this design sovereignty is not the hinge ; there is 
nothing from first to last, in the varieties of the way or of the 


PART IV. indignant to be so hunted by it, is reduced at 
length to the extremity of producing different 
passages from Scripture, of which some seem to 
ascribe all to man and some all to grace, and then 
contending in her passion, that both these ought 
to be understood with a sober explanation, 6 and 
not to be taken strictly. Else, if we urge this 
simile, she in her turn is prepared to urge us with 
those imperative and conjunctive texts ; especially 
with that of Paul s, " If a man shall have 
purged himself from these." Here she represents 
Paul to contradict himself, and to attribute all to 
man, except a sober explanation come to his aid. 
f lf then an explanation of the text be admitted 
here, so as to leave room for grace, why may not 
the simile of the potter also admit of qualification, 
so as to leave room for Freewill ? 

I answer, it is no matter to me whether you take 
the words in a simple sense, or in a double sense, 
or in a hundred senses/ What I say is, you 
gain nothing, you prove nothing (of what you seek 
to gain and prove), by this sober explanation. It 
ought to be proved, that Freewill can will nothing 

end, but what approves itself to right reason. Luther seems to 
think that the salvation of the righteous escapes animadver 
sion : the fact that there is such a state may ; but if the true) 
nature of that state, and the true way to it, be faithfully 
opened, they are scarcely less offensive to the carnal mind> 
than the damnation of the lost. 

e Interpretations sand. ] I do not venture to render by quaH 
lined interpretation, though this appears to be nearly the 
meaning : a sound, as opposed to extravagant, sense is to be 
assigned to the words, in contradistinction to their simple 
literal meaning; which, it is implied, would be extravagan 
and contradictory. A peculiar use of interpretatio, whic 
both Cicero and Quintilian recognise ; from whom Erasmu 
no doubt borrowed it : a giving of the sense, instead of ren 
clering the words ; much as the Levites did when they rea 
the law to the people after the captivity. Nehem. viii. 7 , 8 
See Part iii. Sect. xxx. note f . 

f Simpliciter, dupliciter, centuplicJ] Luther puns upon th 
word simpliciter : which is properly opposed to figurative, o 


good. But in this place, ee If a man shall have SECT. 
purged himself from these," the form of expression XXXIV - 
being conjunctive, neither is any thing, neither is 
nothing proved; Paul is only exhorting. Or if you 
add Diatribe s consequence and say, he exhorts 
in vain, if man cannot cleanse himself ; then it is 
proved that Freewill can do every thing without 
grace. And so, Diatribe disproves herself. 

I still wait for some passage of Scripture there 
fore, which teaches this explanation; I do not 
give credit to those who make it out of their own 
heads. I deny that any passage is found which 
ascribes all to man. I deny also that Paul is at 
variance with himself, when he says " If a man 
shall have cleansed himself from these." I affirm 
that the variance in Paul is not less a fiction, than 
the explanation which she extorts from it is a 
laboured invention ; and that neither of them is 
demonstrated. This indeed I confess, that, if it 
be lawful to increase the Scriptures with these 
consequences and appendages of Diatribe s as 
when she says, injunctions are vain if we have 
not pow r er to fulfil them then Paul is really at 
variance with himself, and all Scripture with him, 
because then the Scripture is made different from 
what it was before. Then also she proves, that 
Freewill can do every thing. But what wonder 
if, in that case, what she says elsewhere be also 
at variance with her ; that God is the alone doer 
of every thing ? But this Scripture, so added to, 
is not only at war with us, but with Diatribe her 
self also, who has laid it down that Freewill can 
will nothing good. Let her therefore deliver her 
self first of all, and say how these two things 
agree with Paul, Freewill can will nothing 
good; and, c if a man shall have cleansed himself; 
therefore he can cleanse himself, or else it is said 
in vain. You see therefore that Diatribe is 
plagued to death, and overcome, by this simile of 
the potter, and that all her effort is to elude the 



PART IV. force of it ; not heeding, in tlie mean while, how 
much her interpretation injures the cause which 
she has undertaken to defend, and how she is con 
futing and making a jest of herself. 6 
SECT. I, on the contrary, as I said before, have 
xxxv- never been ambitious of interpretations, nor have 
~~~ I ever spoken after this manner, " extend the 
always " hand;" that is, grace shall extend it. h These 
maintained are Diatribe s fictions about me, to benefit her own 
conaisten- 1 cause. My affirmation has always been, that 
cyof there is no variance in the words of Scripture, 
i"ius- re auc ^ no nee d of explanation for the purpose of 
tratesitin untying a knot. It is the assertors of Freewill 
affirmed wno ma k e knots where there are none, and dream 
out discrepancies for themselves. For example ; 
those two sayings, " If a man shall have cleansed 
himself," and "God worketh all in all," are in no 
wise opposite : nor is it necessary, by way of 
untying a knot, to say, God does something and 
man does something. The former of these texts 
is a conjunctive sentence; which neither affirms 
nor denies any work or power in man, but pre 
scribes what work or power there ought to be 
in a man. There is nothing figurative here, no 
thing which needs explanation ; the words are 
simple, the sense is simple, if you do not add con 
sequences and corruptives after the manner of 
Diatribe. Then indeed the sense would become 
unsound : but whose fault would it be ? not the 
text s, but its corrupter s. 

The latter text, " God worketh all in all," is 
an indicative sentence, affirming that all work, all 
power is God s. In what respect then do two 
places disagree, of which one has nothing to do 

* All this alleged inconsistency in Scripture is the fruit of 
your additions ; by the aid of which you create inconsisten 
cies, hut you also contradict your own positions. 

h Affectavimus, extende. ] See above, Sect. iv. text and notes j 
particularly note u . 

1 Nodos in scirpo qucerunt."] See above, Part i. Sect.xxvi. note . 


with the power of man, and the other ascribes all SECT. 
to God? Rather, do they not most perfectly ^ 
agree with each other ? But Diatribe is so 
plunged over head and ears, choked and sobbed, k 
by entertaining that carnal thought, it is vain 
to command impossibilities/ as not to be able 
to restrain herself, whenever she hears an im 
perative or conjunctive verb, from at once 
appending her own indicative consequences to it, 
and saying There is something commanded, 
therefore we can do it, else it would have been 
folly to command it. Upon this, she sallies forth 
and makes boast of her victories every where, as 
though she had demonstrated that those con 
sequences, together with her own imagination, 
were as much a settled thing, as the divine autho 
rity. Upon this, she does not hesitate to pro 
nounce that in some passages of Scripture every 
thing is ascribed to man ; that there is a discre 
pancy therefore, a repugnacy in those places, 
which must be obviated by an explanation : not 
seeing, that all this is the figment of her own brain, 
without a single letter of Scripture to confirm it; 
that it is, besides, a figment of such kind, as, if 
idmitted, would confute no one more stoutly than 
lerself. For, would she not prove by it, if she 
?rove any thing, that Freewill can do every 
hing? the express contrary to that which she 
las undertaken to prove. 

Upon the same principle it is, that she so often in merit 
epeats the words, If man does nothing there is and , re ~ 8 

c A.\ > Wai d &C 

10 room tor merit ; where there is no place tor s h e con- 
nerit, there is no place for punishment or for tradicts 


proves an 

Again she does not see how much more stoutly absurdity 
he confutes herself by these carnal arguments, 

k Corrupta."] The figure is that of a man drowned ; and the 
ist term expresses the state of his substance, when now it has 
cen long under water. It is like Virgil s ( cererem corruptam 




PART iv. than she does me. For what do these con- 
sequences prove, save that all attainable merit is 
by Freewill? What room will there then be for 
But in fact grace ? Besides, if you shall say Freewill earns 
ri pnww a very little, and grace the rest, why does Free- 
Paul * will receive the whole reward ? Shall we also in- 
stands. vent a very small degree of reward for her ? If 
there must be place for merit,, that there may be 
place for reward ; the merit should be as big as 
the reward. But why do I lose my words and 
my time about a thing of nought? Though even 
all which Diatribe is contriving should be built 
up and stand ; and though it should be partly 
man s work, and partly God s work, that we have 
merit ; still they cannot define this very work in 
which our merit consists, of what sort, and how 
big it is so that we are disputing about goats 
hair. 1 Well then, since she proves none of those 
things which she asserts neither discrepancy, 
nor qualified interpretation nor can exhibit a 
text of Scripture which ascribes all to man ; bul 
all these things are phantasms of her own imagina 
tion; Paul s simile of the potter arid his clay 
maintains its ground, unhurt and irresistible, a 
proof that it is not of our own will, what sort of 
vessels we are formed; and that those exhorta 
tions of Paul s, "If a man shall have purged him-j 
self" and the like, are models to which we oughij 
to be conformed, but are no proofs of either our 
performance or our endeavour. Let this suffice 
with respect to those passages about Pharaoh ; 
hardening, about Esau, and about the potter. 
SECT. Diatribe comes at length to those passage; 
XXXVIL which are cited by Luther in. opposition to Free 
Gen vi 3 w ^> intending to confute them also ; of which the 
maintain- first is that from Gen. vi. " My Spirit shall no 
always abide in man, because he is flesh." She 
confutes this passage in various ways. First, sh( 

1 Land caprind.~\ See above, Part ii. Sect. iii. note 1. 

ed - 


urges that "flesh" does not signify ( sinful affec- 

tion here, but infirmity. Secondly, she in- xxxvir> 

creases Moses s text: because his saying pertains " 

to the men of that age, not to the whole human race, 

therefore she would say, in those men ; yet 

again, not applying it to even all the men of that 

age, since Noah is excepted. Lastly, she urges 

that this saying imports something else in the 

Hebrew language ; that is to say, the clemency 

and not the severity of God, according to Jerome : 

meaning possibly to persuade us, that, as this say 

ing appertaineth not to Noah but to the wicked ; 

so the severity and not the clemency of God 

appertaineth to Noah, the clemency and not the 

severity of God appertaineth to the wicked ! 

But we will pass over these fooleries of Diatribe s, 

who is every where telling us that she counts the 

Scriptures a fable. I care not what Jerome says 

in his trifling way here : it is certain he proves 

nothing ; and we are not inquiring what Jerome 

thinks, but what the Scripture means. Let the 

perverters of Scripture pretend, that the Spirit of 

Grod means his indignation. I affirm that she 

"ails in her proof two ways : first, in that she 

;annot produce a single text of Scripture in 

.vhich the Spirit of God is taken for God s indig- 

lation ; whilst kindness and sweetness on the con- 

:rary are every where ascribed to him: secondly, 

n that if she could by any means prove, that it is 

iome where or other taken for indignation, still 

ihe cannot forthwith prove, that it necessarily 

bllows it must also be taken so here. So again, 

et her pretend that the flesh is taken for infir- 

aity, still she just in the same degree proves 

lothing. For, Avhereas Paul calls the Corinthians 

Carnal, he certainly does not mean to impute 

nfirmity, but fault to them complaining as he 

loes, that they were oppressed with sects and par 

ies ; which is not infirmity, or incapacity to re- 

eive more solid doctrine, but the old leaveu of 


PART iv. malice : which he commands them to purge out. 
Let us examine the Hebrew. 

" My Spirit shall not always be judging man, 
because he is flesh/ This is word for word what 
Moses says : m and, if we would give up our own 

m I am disposed to give rather a different turn to the declara 
tion, thoiigh in no wise affecting Luther s argument. All he 
wants to shew is, that they are words of anger, not of pity and 
palliation. But since the word which we render "strive " and 
which Luther renders "judge " properly signifies debate or 
judgment given after discussion ; why might not the senti 
ment be "My Spirit shall not be always proving that man is 
flesh 5" or " shall not always be reproving him for being 
flesh?" The great reason for continuing man in existence 
after the original and damning transgression was, that he 
might shew himself what he is, as he has made himself; so 
different from what God made him. The Lord here says, he 
will carry on this work of manifestation this controversy, as 
it may be called no longer than for one hundred and twenty 
years. There seems to be no great importance in the an 
nunciation that he would not strive because he is flesh. He 
was so from the first moment of transgression; and not more so 
now, than from that moment. But the manifestation having 
been carried far enough, there was now a reason why it should 
cease. This trial, or controversy, or judgment, or proof, or 
reproof, was effected by the divine Spirit both mediately and 
immediately acting upon their spirit. Luther confines it to the 
effect of their intercourse with others ; such as Noah, and those 
of the Lord s people who had lived and were living with those 
generations of men : in whom the Spirit of God was. But did 
not that Spirit also act upon these disobedient ones, without 
their intervention ? that Spirit, which, according to Luther, 
moves and drives all God s creatures. "pyi appendere 

litem vel causam agere quomodo disceptare signift. et 
judicare. fut VV"T1 disceptabit. Gen. vi. 3. (Sim. Lex. Hebr. 
in loc.) 1*111 Contendit. prop, appendit. 2. Judicavit, i. e. 
appendit bilance judicii. 3. In judicio contendit. To judge, 
to strive, to litigate. (Robertson s Clavis Pentateuch in loco.) 
Inasmuch as, for that. Robertson. Simon de 

rives it rather differently, and explains by eV TU> seducere 
eos ; i. e. dum seducit eos ipsa caro. 

Luther seems to lose the particular point of the preceding 
verses, when he speaks of the sons of men marrying wives ; 
it is the sons of God seeing the daughters of men, &c. meaning 
surely those who practised and made profession of his worship, 


dreams, the words are sufficiently clear and ma- SECT. 
mfest, I think, as they stand there. But the XXXVH - 
words which go before and which follow after, 
connected as they are with the bringing on of the 
flood, sufficiently shew that they are the expres 
sions of an angry God. They were occasioned by 
the fact of the sons of men marrying wives through 
the mere lust of the flesh, and then oppressing 
the earth with tyranny, so as to compel God to 
hasten the flood, through his anger; scarcely 
allowing him to defer for an hundred years what 
he would otherwise never have brought upon the 
earth. Read Moses carefully, and you will see 
that he clearly means this. But what wonder that 
the Scriptures are obscure, or that you set up not 
only Freewill, but even Divine will through their 
means, if you be at liberty to sport with them as if 
you were looking for scraps and shreds of Virgil in 
them." This forsooth is untying knots and putting 
an end to questions by a qualified interpretation ! 
But Jerome and his friend Origen have filled 
the world with these trifling conceits, and have 
been the originators of this pestilent precedent 
for not consulting the simplicity of Scripture. 

It was enough for me, that it be proved from 
this text, that divine authority calls men flesh ; 
and in such manner flesh, that the Spirit of God 
could not continue amongst them, but at a fixed 
period must be withdrawn from them. He ex 
plains presently what he means by declaring that 
his Spirit shall not always judge amongst men; 
by prescribing the space of an hundred and twenty 
years, as that in which he should still judge. He 

in opposition to those who had thrown it off. The great 
offence and provocation seems to have been given by that hypo 
critical remnant, to and concerning which Enoch, as appears 
from Jude, verse 15, had previously prophesied. 

n Virgilicentonas.~\ More literally, Virgilian centos." 
Simplicitati scripturarum studeretur.~\ i. e. taking care to 
maintain a plain sense where it is practicable, in opposition to a 
figurative one. 


PART iv. opposes the Spirit to the flesh, because men, 

being flesh, do not receive the Spirit ; and he, 

being Spirit, cannot approve the flesh : whence it 
would arise, that he must be withdrawn after an 
hundred and twenty years. So that we may un 
derstand the passage in Moses thus : ( My Spirit, 
which is in Noah and my other saints, reproves 
those wicked men by the word they preach, and 
by the holy life they lead (for to judge amongst 
men is to exercise the ministry of the word 
amongst them 1 to reprove, rebuke and entreat, 
in season and out of season); but in vain. For 
they, being blinded and hardened by the flesh, 
become worse the more they are judged : just as 
it is, whensoever the word of God comes into the 
world ; men are made worse, the more they are 
instructed. And this is the cause why the wrath 
of God is now hastened, just as the flood also 
was hastened in that day ; not only do men sin 
now-a-days, but even grace is despised, and as 
Christ says, ( Light is come but men hate light/ 

Since men are flesh therefore, as God himself 
testifieth, they can mind nothing but the flesh ; so 
that Freewill can have no power but to commit 
sin : and since, with even the Spirit of God 
calling amongst them and teaching them, they 
grow worse ; what would they do when left 
to themselves, without the Spirit of God ? Nor 
is it any thing to the purpose here, that Moses 
speaks of the men of that age. The same is true 
of all men, since all are flesh, as Christ says in 
John iii. 6. " That which is born of the flesh is 
flesh." How great a malady this is, he teaches 
us himself on the same occasion, when he says, 
" No one can enter into the kingdom of God, ex 
cept he have been born again." Let the Chris 
tian know therefore, that Origen and Jerome, and 

p OJftcio verbi inter eos agere.~\ Implying more than mere 
preaching he has before said ( per verbum prsedicationis et 
vitam piorum : it is word administered by mouth, and life. 


all their tribe, are guilty of a pernicious error in SECT. 
denying that the flesh is to be taken for ungodly XXXVII 
affection in these places. For that expression in 
1 Cor. Hi. " Ye are yet carnal " bespeaks ungod 
liness. Paul means that they had ungodly per 
sons still amongst them; and further, that the 
godly, so far as they mind carnal things, are 
carnal; although they have ..been justified by the 

In short, you will observe in Scripture that 
wheresoever the flesh is treated of in opposition 
to the Spirit, you may almost always understand 
by the flesh every thing that is contrary to the 
Spirit. For instance ; " The flesh profiteth no 
thing." But where it is treated of absolutely, 
you may know that it denotes the bodily nature 
and condition : as " They two shall be one flesh." 
" My flesh is meat indeed." " The word was 
made flesh." In these places you may change the 
Hebrew idiom and say body/ instead of flesh : 
the Hebrew language expressing by one word 
flesh/ what we do by the words flesh and 
body/ I wish indeed that it had been so trans 
lated, by distinct terms, throughout the whole 
canon of Scripture, without exception. So that 
my text from Gen. vi. will still maintain its place 
boldly, I think, as the opponent of Freewill: since 
it is proved, that the flesh, as here spoken of, is 
that same substance of which Paul says in Ro 
mans viii. that " neither can it be subjected to 
the will of God" (as we shall see when we come 
to that place); and of which Diatribe says her 
self, that it can will nothing good. 1 

q It is impossible to understand this text so as that it shall 
not be a decisive testimony against Freewill. Whether it be 
that God would cease to prove man, what he is, or cease to 
judge him, because he is such an one ; what he is remains the 
same ; and that is something so vile that God cannot any 
longer tolerate it. I confess that I greatly prefer understand 
ing the flesh in Rom. vii. viii. as the bodily part of the saint j 
which, whilst he remains in this world, is unrenewed. But 


PART iv. The second passage is from Gen. viii. " The 
imagination and thought of man s heart are prone 

xxxviii * ev ^ f rom n * s y ou th " And i* 1 chap. vi. " Every 
_____ thought of man s heart is intent upon evil con- 
Gen, viii. tinually." She puts off this by saying, The prorie- 
21. and _ ness t o evil, which is iii most men, does not alto- 
tained" ai " gether take away the freedom of the will. 

But does Gocl, pray, speak of most men, and 
not rather of all men, when, as if repenting himself 

what difference does this make as to the question of Freewill ? 
Every individual man is by natural constitution " enmity 
against God;" so far as that natural constitution remains in 
the saint, he also is enmity. The passage under consideration 
either says, or implies, being he is flesh, he is contrary to the 
Spirit and offensive to Gocl. What is the state of his will 
then ? I would rather understand the word flesh here, of 
his whole substance or constitution than, as Luther and most 
other divines do, of an affection of it. Indeed, I consider 
that much jargon has been introduced into theology by this 
distinction. It has led to what is called the doctrine of two 
principles (the term principle being a very indefinite one, 
and a shelter for almost every thing that is unknown or wishes 
to be obscure) ; whereas I believe there are few if any places 
in Scripture, in which it may not be understood of the human 
substance, either in its complexity as soul and body, or in 
its dividuality, as body only. I by no means subscribe to 
the interpretation which Luther assigns to some of the texts 
he adduces. " The Jlesh profiteth nothing " is not evil affec 
tion but the natural substance of man as contrasted with 
* the Spirit. "The word was made flesh," does not declare 
body in opposition to soul, but that whole human person which 
the second Person of the ever-blessed Trinity did verily and 
actually assume into union with himself when the fulness of 
the time was come. So " my flesh is meat indeed " does not 
exclude his soul as made an offering for sin : neither does the 
" one flesh" which the church is made to be with Christ ex 
clude him that is joined to the Lord from being one Spirit. 
As a hint to shew that, if Luther s interpretation and distinction 
with respect to the term flesh be admitted, a third must at 
least be added (viz. this sense which comprehends the whole 
human substance, and so constitutes a title which distinguishes 
man from all other creatures) ; I would mention Psalm cxlv. 21. 
Luke iii. 6. Isaiah xl. 5,6. John xvii. 2. 1 Cor. i. 29. to which 
others without number might be added. Luther speaks with. 
sufficient exactness of the presence and withdrawal of the 
Spirit to make it clear that he did not understand Him to have 
dwelt in the ungodly ; whilst he omits a very important part of 
His agency. (See above, note m .) 


after the flood, lie promises to those which re- SECT. 

*V"V "V" \f 1 1 T 

mained of men, and to those which should come 
after, that he would not any more bring a flood 
because of man ; subjoining as the reason, that 
man is prone to evil? As if he should say, 
Were man s wickedness to be regarded, there 
must never be any cessation from a flood : but I 
do not mean hereafter to look at man s deserv- 
ings &c. So you see God affirms that men were 
evil both before the flood and after it; making it 
to be nothing, what Diatribe says about most men. 
Then again, this proneness or propensity to evil 
seems a matter of small moment to Diatribe; as 
though it were within the limits of our own power 
to raise it up r or restrain it : whereas the Scrip 
ture means to express by this proneness that con 
stant seizure and impulse of the will towards evil. 
Why has not Diatribe consulted the Hebrew text 
even here also? in which Moses says nothing 
about proneness ; that you may have no ground 
for cavilling. For thus it is written in chap. vi. 
" Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart 
is only evil all his days." He does not say intent 
upon, or prone to evil, but absolutely evil ; and 
that nothing but evil is imagined and thought of 
by man all his life. The nature of its wickedness 
is described; that it neither does, nor can clo other 
wise, seeing it is evil : for an evil tree cannot 
bear any other than evil fruit, according to Christ s 
testimony. As to Diatribe s cavil, ( Why is space 
given for repentance, if repentance be in nowise 
dependent upon the will, but every thing is 
wrought by necessity? my reply is, you may say 
the same of all the precepts of God : why does he 
enjoin, if all things happen by necessity ? He 
commands, that he may instruct and admonish men 
what they ought to do, that having been humbled 
by the recognition of their own wickedness they 

r Erigere.] See Part iii. Sect, xxxviii. note n . 


PART iv. may attain to grace ; as hath been abundantly 
- declared. 8 So that this text, also, still stands its 

ground invincibly, as the antagonist of Freewill. 
SECT. The third passage is that of Isai. xl. " She hath 


received of the Lord s hand double for all her 

Isaiah sins." Jerome, says she, interprets it of divine 

xi.2. main- vengeance, not of grace given in return for evil 

tamed. deeds. This means, Jerome says so, therefore it 

is true. I affirm that Isaiah asserts a certain pro 

position in most express words, and Jerome is 

cast in my teeth ; a man, to speak in the gentlest 

terms, of no judgment or diligence. What is be 

come of that promise, on the faith of which we 

made a compact that we would plead the Scrip 

tures themselves, not human commentaries? 1 

This whole chapter of Isaiah, according to the 
Evangelists, speaks of remission of sins as an 
nounced by the Gospel ; in which they affirm that 
( the voice of him that crieth " pertaineth to 
John the Baptist. Now is it to be endured, 
that Jerome should, after his manner, obtrude 
Jewish blindnesses upon us as the historical sense 
of the passage, and then his own silly conceits by 
way of allegory to it; that, through a perver 
sion of grammar, we may understand a passage, 
which speaks of remission, to speak of vengeance ? 
What sort of vengeance is it, pray, which has 
been fulfilled by preaching Christ?" But let us 

s See above Part iii. Sect. xxii. &c. 

* See Part ii. Sect. i. 

11 There is a vengeance connected with the preaching of 
Christ ; yea, and a necessary part of that preaching. " To 
preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of ven 
geance of our God." The kingdom of God has enemies that 
would not be reigned over by the King, to be trodden under 
foot, as well as princes to be seated on thrones. There are 
souls to be cut off amongst the people by not hearing that 
Prophet, as well as souls to be gathered by hearing him. "WE 
are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved 
and in them that perish. To the one we are a aavour of life 
unto life; and to the other a savour of death unto death." 
The Lord Jesus said of his Jewish opposers, " If I had not 


look at the words themselves in the Hebrew. SECT. 
Be comforted (says he), be comforted, O my XXXIX - 
people ; or, comfort ye, comfort ye my people, 
saith your God. I imagine he does not inflict 
vengeance who commands consolation. It fol 
lows; "speak to the heart of Jerusalem and pro 
claim unto her." To speak to the heart is an He 
braism ; meaning", to speak good, sweet and 
soothing things : as, in Genesis xxxiv. Sichem 
speaks to the heart of Dinah, whom he had defiled ; 
that is, he soothed her in her sadness with soft 
words as our translation has it. What those 
good and sweet things are, which God hath com 
manded to be spoken for their consolation, he 
explains by saying, " For her warfare is finished, 
insomuch that her iniquity is pardoned ; seeing, 
she hath received of the Lord s hand double for 
all her sins." ( Warfare/ which our manuscript 
copies exhibit faultily by the word malice/ 
appears to the audacious Jewish grammatists/ to 
denote a stated time : for thus they understand 
that saying in Job vii. The life of man upon the 
earth is a ( warfare/ that is, there is an appointed 
time to him. I prefer considering the term ( war 
fare to be used literally, according to its gram 
matical sense; understanding Isaiah to speak of 
the course and labour of the people under the 
law, which was like that of combatants in the 

come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin." The 
manifestation of what is in man of the Satanic enmity of the 
human heart is peculiarly effected by the preaching of Christ. 
But it is not the/on of that dispensation to condemn ("God 
sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world"), 
though aggravated guilt and increased condemnation be the 
actual result of his coming. Nor is Luther s argument in 
validated by this result : the people to be comforted are not 
objects of vengeance, but of favour. 

v Grammatistif!.] Not grnmmatirux, but grammafefr/ .- a 
name of reproach, which he applies here to the Jewish Rabbins ; 
who were sciolists in literature, though vast pretenders, and 
took great liberties with the sacred text. See above, Sect. iv. 
note t . 


PART iv. stadium. For thus Paul by choice compares both 

the preachers and hearers of the word to soldiers; 

as, when he commands Timothy to fight as a good 
soldier, and to war a good warfare : and repre 
sents the Corinthians to be running in a race 
course. So again, " No man is crowned except 
he strive lawfully." He clothes both the Ephe- 
sians and the Thessalonians with armour,, and 
boasts that he has himself fought the good fight: 
and the like in other places." So in 1 Kings 
(I Samuel) it is written in the Hebrew text, 
that the sons of Eli slept with the women who 
were performing service (literally, warring ) at 
the door of the tabernacle of the covenant : of 
whose w r arfare Moses also maketh mention in 
Exodus/ Hence too, the God of that people is 
called the Lord of Sabaoth ; that is, the Lord of 
warfare or of armies. 

Isaiah therefore declares, that the warfare of a 
legal people with which they were harassed under 
the law, as with an insupportable burden (accord 
ing to the testimony of Peter in Acts xv.), should 
be finished; and that they, being delivered from 
the law, should be translated into the new service of 
the Spirit. Moreover, this end of their most hard 
service, and this succession of a new and most 
free one shall not be given them through their 
merit (since they could not even bear that service), 
but rather through their demerit; because their 
warfare is finished in this manner, through their 
iniquity being freely forgiven them. Here are no 
obscure or ambiguous words. He says that their 
warfare shall be finished, because their iniquity is 
forgiven them ; plainly intimating, that they, as 
soldiers under the law, had not fulfilled the law 
neither could have fulfilled it but had been war 
ring in the service of sin, and had been sinner 

x 2 Tim. ii. 3. 1 Tim. vi. 12. 1 Cor. ix. 2427. 2 Tim. ii. 5. 
Ephes. vi. 1 Thess. v. 2 Tim. iv. 7. 

y Exod. xxxviii. 8. Compare 1 Sam. ii. 22. 


soldiers : as if God should say, I am compelled to , S ?9 T ; 
forgive them their sins, if I would have the law 
fulfilled by them ; nay, I am compelled at the 
same time to take away the law, because I see 
that they cannot but sin and that most of all, 
when they are militating; that is, labouring to 
shew the model of the law 2 through their own 
strength. The Hebrew phrase " her iniquity 
hath been forgiven," denotes gratuitous good 
pleasure : by which iniquity is made a present oP 
(forgiven) without any merit, nay with absolute 
demerit. This is what he subjoins. 

" For she hath received of the Lord s hand 
double for all her sins." This, as I have said, 
means not only remission of sins, but even a 
finished warfare ; which is nothing else but the 
law, which was the strength of sin, being taken 
away; and sin, which was the sting of death, 
being forgiven to reign in twofold liberty, 
through the victory of Jesus Christ : this is 
what Esaias means by his " Of the hand of the 
Lord." They have not obtained these things by 
their own strength or merits, but have received 
them through the conquests and free gift of 
Christ. " In all their sins," is an Hebraism ; 
agreeing to what is expressed in Latin by for or 
on account of their sins : just as in Hosea xii. it 
is said, Jacob served in his wife ; that is, for 
his wife. And in the 17th Psalm, they have com 
passed me round in my soul ; that is, for my 
soul. Tsaiah therefore represents our merits, in 
a figure, to be the procuring cause of this two 
fold liberty ; namely, the finished warfare of the 
law, and forgiveness of sin; because these (our 
merits) have been only sins, and all of them 

Shall we then suffer this most beautiful and 

z Lcgem exprimere. ] Properly, to press, wring, strain, or 
squeeze out} hence applied figuratively to models in wax, 
marble, or canvass. 


PART iv. invincible text against Freewill to be polluted 
with Jewish filth,, such as Jerome and Diatribe 
have daubed upon it? God forbid ! On the con 
trary, my friend Esaias keeps his ground as 
the conqueror of Freewill, and makes it clear 
that grace is given, not to the merits or endea 
vours of Freewill, but to its sins and demerits; 
and that Freewill can, by its own powers, 
do nothing but maintain the warfare of sin 
insomuch that even the very law, which is sup 
posed to have been given as a help to her, was 
an intolerable burden, and made her yet more 
sinner whilst militating under it. a 

a Militantem .~] The word milito, which occurs in divers 
forms throughout this passage, expresses the whole state of a 
soldier* as to doing and suii ering, in preparation, conflict, ant 
endurance. Luther goes far afield for his solution and de 
fence of this text 5 1. Warfare is her legal service. 2. She 
only sinned in that service. 3. She was rewarded for sin, not 
merit The truth, if I mistake not, lies nearer home. Why not 
understand " double for all her sins" as a phrase to denote, 
that e great and manifold as her sins had been, she was re 
ceiving the double of them in divine favour. Double is a finite 
put for an infinite. (So Isa. Ixi. 7- Jerem. xvi. 18. xvii. 18 
Zech. ix. 12. Rev. xviii. 6 .) Her warfare is the whole interva 
of her toil and labour. I cannot but think that the prophecy 
in its consummation is still future ; though it has already re 
ceived a partial fulfilment. Jerusalem s warfare is not yet 
accomplished : but the whole space from the Lord s first 
coming in the flesh to his hereafter coming in glory is com 
prehended in this prophecy ; in which it will at length be seen 
that the Jerusalem which then was had an interest. The 
visible church received this double at the coming, or rather 
at the ascension, of the Lord Jesus ; when her covenant of 
condemnation was exchanged for a covenant of righteousness. 
But the prophecy looks farther ; even to the end of that 
new dispensation which John Baptist began, when the true 
church " the church of the first-born, which are written in 
heaven" shall receive its consummation and bliss ; and the 
national Israel, which has been running a parallel with it 
throughout the whole of its history, shall receive and enjoy 
what it has never yet truly possessed its Canaan and 
its Temple. Thus, I neither understand the warfare, nor 
the double, with Luther s strictness ; I might rather say,/ar- 
fetched-ness : nor do I place this text where he would place- 
it, as a testimony against Freewill. It is only by implicatioa 


As to what Diatribe argues, that f although SECT.XL. 
sin abounds through the law, and where sin hath 
abounded, grace also abounds; but it does not 

follow hence, that man, assisted by the help of help. 


God, cannot, even before grace makes him ac- Cornelius 

ceptable, prepare himself, by means of works 
morally good, for the divine favour : 

I shall wonder, if Diatribe be speaking here of 
her own head, and have not culled this flower 
from some document sent or obtained from some 
other quarter ; which she has entwined into her 
own nosegay. 1 She neither sees, nor hears, what 
her own words mean. If sin aboundeth by the 
law, how is it possible that a man can prepare 
himself by moral works for the divine favour ? 
How can works profit, when the law does not 
profit? or what else is it for sin to abound by the 
law, but that works done according to the law 
are sins ? But of this in another place. Then 
what is it she says, that ( man assisted by the 
help of God can prepare himself by good works ? 
Are we arguing about God s help, or about Free 
will? What is not possible to the divine help? 
But this is just what I said, Diatribe despises the 
cause she is pleading, and therefore snores and 
gapes so in the midst of her talk. 

But she adduces Cornelius the centurion, as 
an example of a man whose prayers and alms 
have pleased God, before he was yet baptized, 
and inspired with the Holy Spirit. 

a testimony against Freewill ; it is a broad, palpable testi 
mony to " reigning grace :" sin is requited with super- 
abounding, free favour ; and it is implied that there has been, 
and could be, nothing but sin going before. The hypothetical, 
and therefore questionable; nature of Luther s interpretation is 
manifested by his own testimonies: all rest upon militia j 1 
which he makes law -service, lint does not he cite the Gospel 
also called a warfare ? To whom are these sayings in Timothy, 
the Corinthians, Ephesians, &c. addressed ? 

b Libro suo inseruerit. ] I have ventured to maintain Luther s 
figure of decerpserit. 



PART IV. I also have read Luke s account in the Acts ; 

but I have never found a single syllable which 

indicates that the works of Cornelius were morally 
good Avithout the Holy Spirit, as Diatribe dreams. 
On the contrary,, I find that he was a just man, 
and one that feared God : for so Luke calls him. 
But for a man to be called a just man and one 
that fears God, without the Holy Spirit, is to call 
Belial Christ. Then again, the whole argument 
in that passage goes to prove that Cornelius was 
one clean in the sight of God : even the vision, 
which was sent down from heaven to Peter, and 
w r hich also rebuked him, testifies this; nay, the 
righteousness and faith of Cornelius are cele 
brated by Luke in such great words, and by such 
great deeds, that it is impossible to doubt them. 
Diatribe however, with her friends the Sophists, 
contrives to be blind, and to see the contrary, 
with her eyes open, amidst the clearest light of 
words and evidence of facts. Such is her want of 
diligence in reading and observing the Scriptures; 
which in that case may well be defamed as ob 
scure and ambiguous. What though he had not 
yet been baptized, and had not yet heard the tes 
timony to Christ s resurrection ! Does it follow 
from thence that he had not the Holy Spirit? On 
the same principle, you will say that John the 
Baptist also, with his father and mother next, 
Christ s mother and Simeon had not the Spirit ! 
But away with such thick darkness ! 

SEC.XLI. My fourth text, taken from the same chapter of 

Esaias, " All flesh is grass, and all the glory 

c Cornelius, if I distinguish rightly, was a quickened man, 
but not a converted man : one begotten again from death by 
the Holy Ghost, but not yet turned to the Lord for how could 
he be turned to him whom he knew not ? and how could he 
know him of whom he had not heard ? But he had already 
been brought by the Spirit of Christ into a state to receive 
Him when he should be manifested by preaching ; and the 
Lord had reserved, and still doth reserve, this honour for his 
outward word, and for his accredited ambassadors. 


thereof as the flower of grass; the grass wither- SEC.XU. 
eth, and the flower thereof falleth, because the 
Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it;" &c. seems 
to my Diatribe to suffer very great violence when 
drawn to the subject of grace and Freewill. Why 
so, pray ! Because Jerome, says she, takes the 
Spirit for indignation, and the flesh for the infirm 
state of man ; which cannot stand against God. 
Again are the trifling conceits of Jerome pro 
duced to me instead of Esaias. I have a harder 
fight to maintain against the weariness wittrwhich 
Diatribe s carelessness consumes me, than against 
Diatribe herself. But I have said very lately 
what I think of Jerome s sentiment. Let us com 
pare Diatribe s self with herself. Flesh, says she, 
is the infirm state of man. Spirit is the divine 
indignation. Has the divine indignation nothing- 
else then to dry up, but only this wretched and 
infirm condition of man; which it ought rather 
to raise up than to destroy ? 

But this is a finer touch still. c The flower of 
grass is the glory which arises from prosperity with 
respect to bodily things. The Jews gloried in their 
temple, in circumcision, and in their sacrifices : 
the Greeks in their wisdom/ So then, the flower 
of grass and the glory of the flesh is the righte 
ousness of works and the wisdom of the world. 
How is it then, that righteousness and wisdom are 
called bodily things by Diatribe ? What must 
then be said to Esaias himself, who explains him 
self in words without figure, where he says, 
te Truly the people is grass.". He does not say, 
* Truly the infirm condition of man is grass/ but 
" the people is grass ;" and he asserts it with an 
oath. What is the people then? Is it only the 
infirm condition of man ? I do not know indeed 
whether Jerome means the creature itself/ or 
the wretched lot and state of man/ by ( the in 
firm condition of man. But, whichsoever of the 
two it be, the divine indignation < carries off 



PART iv. wonderful praise and ample spoils assuredly/ d 

in drying up a wretched creature, or men that are 

in a state of unhappiness, instead of scattering 
the proud and putting down the mighty from their 
seat, and sending the rich empty away; as Mary 
sings. 6 
sc. XLII. But let us bid adieu to our spectres, and fol- 

low Esaias. The people, says he, is grass. Now 

fcrterpret- ^ ie P e P^ e ^ s no * merely flesh, or the infirm state 
ation. of human nature, but comprehends whatsoever is 
contained in the people ; namely, rich men, wise 
men, just men, holy men : unless the Pharisees, 
the elders, the princes, the chiefs, the rich, &c. 
were not of the people of the Jews. Its glory is 
rightly called the flower of grass ; forasmuch as 
they boasted of their dominion, their government, 
and especially of their law, of God, of righteous 
ness and wisdom ; as Paul argues in Rom. ii. iii. 
ix. When Esaias therefore says, " all flesh;" 
what is this else but all the grass, or all the 
people ? For he does not simply say, " flesh," 
but " all flesh." Now there pertaineth to the 
people soul, body, mind, reason, judgment and 
whatsoever can be mentioned or discovered that 
is most excellent in man. For he who says " all 
flesh is grass" excepts no one, but the Spirit which 
dries it up. So neither does he omit any thing 
who says, " the people are grass." Let there be 
Freewill then, let there be whatsoever is accounted 
highest and lowest in the people, Esaias calls all 
this flesh and grass : seeing that these three nouns, 
flesh, grass, people, according to the interpret 
ation of the very author of the book, mean the 
same thing in this place. 

Then again, you affirm your own self, that the 
wisdom of the Greeks, and the righteousness oil 
the Jews, which were dried up by the Gospel, 
are grass, or the flower of grass. Do you think 

d Virg. ./En. iv. 93. e Luke i. 51, 52. 


that wisdom was not the most excellent thin"- sc. XLII. 
which the Greeks possessed ? Do you think that 
righteousness was not the most excellent thino* 
which the Jews could work ? Shew me any thing 
that was more excellent than these. What be^ 
conies of your confidence then, by which you 
gave even Philip a black-eye/ as I suppose; say 
ing, < If any man should contend that what is best 
m man is nothing else but flesh that is to say, 
wickedness I will be ready to agree with him^ 
provided he but shew by Scripture testimonies 
that what he asserts is true? 

You have here Esaias proclaiming with a loud 
voice that the people which hath not the Spirit of 
the Lord is flesh ; although even this loud voice 
does not make you hear. You have your own 
self s confession (made perhaps without knowing 
what you was saying), that the wisdom of the 
Greeks is grass, or the glory of grass; which is 
just the same thing as calling it flesh. Unless 
you should choose to contend that the wisdom of 
the Greeks does not appertain to reason, or the 
leading thing/ e as you ca }| j t by a Greek term . 

that is, to the principal part of man. Hear your 
self at least, pray if you despise me when as 
you have been taken captive by the force of truth, 
affirming what is right. You have John declaring, 
! That which is born of the flesh is flesh ; and 
that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." This 
passage, which evidently proves that what is not 
born of the Spirit is flesh (else that division of 
Christ would not stand, by which he divides all 
men into two parties, the flesh and the Spirit) 
this passage, I say, you have the courage to pass 
over as if it did not teach you what you were 

f Etiam Philippum suillabas. \ Philip Meluncthon who 
maintained a good deal of friendly intercourse with Erasmus, 
and was much more to his mind than Luther and the rest of 
the reformers : this explains etiam. 

* To I 


PART iv. demanding 11 and scurry away, as your manner is, 
to another subject; holding forth to us in the 
mean while, how that John says, Believers are 
born of God and made sons of God ; yea Gods 
and new creatures/ You give no heed to the 
conclusion which the division leads to, but teach 
us in superfluous words who those are whom 
the other part of the division comprehends : 
trusting in your rhetoric, as if there was nobody 
to observe this most crafty transition and dissi 
mulation of yours. 1 

It is hard to give you credit for not being art 
ful and chameleon-like here. The man, who labours 
in the Scriptures with the wiliness and hypocrisy 
which you employ over them, may safely enough 

h Referring to his challenge above ; provided he but 
shew/ &c. 

1 Luther s argument is, Freewill is called flesh here ; for 
it is part of the people which, with all that is in it, gets the 
name of flesh here : for people/ flesh/ grass/ are declared 
by Isaiah himself to be the same thing. You ought according 
to your own previous confession therefore to submit ; and, with 
respect to the real nature of flesh, we have it from our Lord s 
own mouth in John iii. I do not fall in with his reasoning : if 
flesh mean what he says it does in John, must it also mean the 
same here ? Bvit why must it mean what he says, in John ? why 
not there as well as here mean the whole substance and con 
stitution of man / not body only/ nor ungodly affection. (See 
above, Sect, xxxvii. notei.) All flesh/ is all human beings 
the people generally distinguishes the Jews from the rest 
of the world ; and so gives emphasis here. It is man s mor 
tality, moreover, rather than his sin, which is brought into view 
here ; as set in contrast with the imimitability of God. (See 
the whole context from ver. 3 to ver. 8, and compare with 
1 Pet. i. 9A, 25.) The great subject of the prophecy^is, THE 
GLORY Jehovah shall be revealed : God who is not, like man, 
grass and a liar hath spoken it. In the word grass/ I 
follow our English version, which has the authority of the 
original text Ti?n herba virens a -ttn viruit. But Luther 
has fcenum ; grass in the state of cut and withered. Thus, 
again we have a testimony against Freewill by implication 
only : and, though we need not wonder, as Erasmus does, how 
this should be dragged into the dispute (for if man be grass, 
what is his will ?) ; 1 cannot help remarking, what I shall 
have occasion to do hereafter more freely, that Luther would 
have done wisely in keeping back some of his witnesses. 


profess that lie is not yet taught by the Scrip- sc. XLH. 

tures, but that he wishes to be taught; whereas 

he wishes nothing less, and only chatters thus, 
that he may disparage that most clear light which 
is in the Scriptures, and may give a grace to his 
own obstinacy. Thus the Jews maintain unto this 
day, that what Christ and the Apostles and the 
Church have taught is not proved by the Scrip 
tures. Heretics cannot be taught any thing by 
the Scriptures. The Papists have not yet been 
taught by the Scriptures, although even the stones 
cry out the truth. Perhaps you are waiting for 
a passage to be produced from the Scriptures, 
which shall consist of these letters and syllables, 
tf The principal part in man is flesh ; or ( that 
which is most excellent in man is flesh; and till 
then, mean to march off as an invincible conqueror. 
Just as though the Jews should demand that a 
sentence be produced from the Prophets consist 
ing of these letters ; Jesus, the son of a car 
penter, born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem, is 
the Messiah, and the Son of God. 

Here, where you are compelled to admit our 
conclusion, by the manifest sentiment, you pre 
scribe the letters and the syllables which we are 
to produce to you : elsewhere, when conquered 
both by the letters and the sentiment, you have 
your tropes; your knots to untie, and your sober 
explanation. Every where you find something to 
oppose to the divine Scriptures : and no wonder, 
when you do nothing else hut seek for something 
to oppose to them* One while you run to the 
interpretations of the ancients ; another while to 
the absurdities of reason : when neither of these 
serve your purpose, you talk about things that 
are afar off, and things that are nigh, just that 
you may avoid being confined to the text imme 
diately before you. What shall I say? Proteus 
is no Proteus, as compared with you. But you 
cannot slip out of our hands even by these arti- 


PART iv. fices. What victories did the Arians boast, be 
cause those letters and syllables 6{tiO&(no$ were 
not contained in the Scriptures : not accounting- 
it any thing, that the reality affirmed by that word 
is most decisively proved by other words. But 
let even impiety and iniquity herself judge, 
whether this be the acting of a good mind I 
will not say of a pious one which desires to be 

Take your victory then I confess myself con 
quered these letters and syllables, the most 
excellent thing in man is but flesh/ are not found 
in the Scriptures. But see thou, what sort of a vic 
tory thine is, when I prove that there are found 
testimonies in the greatest abundance to the fact, 
that not one portion or the most excellent thing 
in man or the principal part of man is flesh; 
but that the whole man is flesh : and not only so, 
but that the whole people is flesh; and, as though 
this were not enough, that the whole human race is 
flesh. For Christ says, " That which is born of 
the flesh is flesh." Untie thy knots, imagine thy 
tropes, follow the interpretation of the ancients, 
or turn else whither, and discourse about the 
Trojan war, that you may not see or hear the 
text which is before you. It is not matter of 
faith with us, but we both see and feel, that the 
whole human race is born of the flesh : we 
are therefore compelled to belieA^e what we do 
not see ; namely, that the whole human race is 
JJesh, upon the authority of Christ s teaching. 
Now therefore, we leave it to the Sophists to 
doubt and dispute whether the Tjyepovfxa,, or 
leading part in man, be comprehended in the 
whole man, the whole people, the whole race 
of man : knowing as we do, that in the sub 
ject, whole human race/ is comprehended the 
body and the soul, with all their powers and 
operations, with all their vices, and virtues, with 
all their folly and wisdom, with all their justice 


and injustice. All things are flesh; because all sc. XLII. 

things mind the flesh (that is, the things which 

are their own), and are destitute of the glory of 
God and of the Spirit of God : as Paul says in 
Rom. iii. k 

k Luther speaks as the oracles of God, when he says, all 
things meaning all persons all human beings are flesh. 
I have hinted already (sec the last note) that I do not 
agree with Luther in his interpretation of this most autho 
ritative text (John iii. G.) on which he bottoms his whole 
argument here, as he did before. lie says " That which 
is born of the flesh is flesh" means that which is born 
of the flesh is sinful, or ungodly, affection ; in short, is 
wicked, or wickedness. / say flesh means the same in 
the subject and in the predicate j that which is born of man 
is man. What this i.s, as to its nature, properties and qua 
lities, must be sought elsewhere : but the next clause gives us 
a pretty good hint at these, by implying that it is of a nature 
directly contrary to that of the Holy Ghost ; " That which is 
born of the flesh is flesh ; and that which is born of the Spirit 
is Spirit." The Scripture is, moreover, abundantly explicit in its 
testimony to what this nature is, by giving us a full and com 
plete history of its creation and depravation, and by asserting in 
the clearest and strongest terms its total, universal, complicated, 
and pervasive villainy. Take but these four passages, to which 
scores might be added, and let them teach us what that flesh 
is which flesh begets, and brings forth. " What is man, that 
he should be clean ? and he which is born of a woman, that 
he should be righteous ? Behold, he putteth no trust in his 
saints, and the heavens are not clean in his sight : how much 
more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity 
like water?" (Job xv. 14 1G.) " Behold I was shapen in 
iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm li.5.) 
" The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately 
wicked ; who can know it :" (Jerem. xvii. 9.) " For from 
within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, adul- 
| teries, fornications, murders, thefts, eovetousiiess, wickedness, 
deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolish 
ness : all these evil things come from within, and defile the 
man." (Mark vii. 21 23.) It is not therefore, that I draw a 
different testimony from John iii. G. but I make it a step to ex 
plicit proof, rather than explicit proof itself ; and by so doing 
cut the sinews of objection here, whilst I also preserve 
simplicity and uniformity in the interpretation of Scripture 

* For a more full consideration of the terms flesh and spirit, I venture to 
refer the reader to Vauglian s Clergyman s Appeal, chap. iii. sect. iii. and 
:hap. v. sect. ii. iv. where some account is given of the nature state of man, 
ind of the sanctification of the Lord s people, which I deem satisfactory. 



PART iv. As to what you say therefore, that every affec 
tion 1 of man is not flesh, but there is which is 

called soul, there is which is called spirit ; by the 

He;ithen~ tatter of which we strive after whatsoever things 

virtue is are honourable 111 -just as the philosophers strove, 

horr* ab ~ w ^ * au S R t that death should be encountered a 

thousand times sooner than allow ourselves in 

any base act, even though we knew that men 

would be ignorant of it, and God forgive it 

I reply; it is easy for a man who believes 
nothing assuredly to believe any thing, and say 
any thing. Let your friend Lucian," not I, ask 
you, whether you can shew us a single individual 
out of the whole human race (you shall be twice 
or seven times over a Socrates yourself, if you 
please) who hath exhibited what you here men 
tion, and se^y that they taught. Why do you tell 
stories then, in vain words ? Could those strive 
after honourable things who did not even know 
what honourable is? You call it honourable 
perhaps (to hunt out the most eminent example) 
that they died for their country, for their wives 
and children, and for their parents ; or that, to avoid 
belying themselves or betraying these relations, 
they endured exquisite torments. Such were 
Q. Scasvola, M. Regulus, and others. But what 
can you display in all these, save an outside shew 
of good works ? Have you looked into their 

1 Omnis affectusJ] Not merely what we commonly denote 
affection, meaning appetite and passion ;" but all that is 
liable to be moved and affected in man : his whole constitu 
tion as a moral being. 

m Quo nitimur ad honesta.~\ Honestum is properly opposed to 
turpe : placui tibi, qui turpi secernis honestum . Hor. It is 
the honore et laude dignum, opposed to what is dishonour 
able : the Ka\ov of the Greeks ; something more exalted than 
the TTpcirov, even as that AVUS also more exalted than the SIKO.IOV, 

n See above, Part ii. Sect. xx. note x . 

It should rather be C. Screvola ; that ScaeA^ola Avho hazarded 
his life to rid his country of Porsenna ; that Regulus Avho dis 
suaded from peace with Carthage though he went back to die 
for it. 


hearts ? Nay, it appeared at the same time on SC.XLIII. 

the very outside of their performance that they 

were doing all these things for their own glory ; 
insomuch that they were not ashamed to confess 
and to make it their boast, that they were seek 
ing their own glory. For it was glory burning 
them through and through, which led even these 
Romans, according to their own testimony, to do 
whatsoever they did that was virtuous; which 
same thing is true both of the Greeks also, and of 
the Jews also, and of the whole human race. 

Now, although this be honourable amongst 
men, still nothing can be more dishonourable in 
the sight of God ; nay, in his sight, it was the 
most impious and consummate sacrilege, that they 
did not act for the glory of God, neither did they 
glorify him as God, but, by the most impious 
sort of robbery, stole the glory from God and 
ascribed it to themselves : so that they were 
never less honourable and more vile, than whilst 
shining forth in their most exalted virtues. But 
now, how could they act for the glory of God, 
when they knew nothing of God and of his glory: 
not for that these did not appear, but because the 
flesh did not suffer them to see the glory of God, 
through the rage and madness with which they 
were raving after their own glory. Here then, you 
have the chieftain spirit (^y^oy/xov)., that prin 
cipal part of man, striving after things honour 
able in other words, exhibiting itself as the rob 
ber of God s glory, and the affectant of his 
Majesty in the case of those men most of all, 
who are the most honourable and the most illus 
trious for their consummate virtues. Deny now, 
if you can, that these men are flesh, and in a lost 
state through ungodly affection. 

Indeed I imagine that Diatribe was not so 
much offended with its being said that man is 
flesh or spirit, when she read it according to the 
Latin translation, < man is carnal or spiritual. 


PART iv. p or we lluls t o-rant this peculiarity amongst many 
others to the Hebrew tongue, that when it says,, 
( Man is flesh or spirit/ it means the same that 
we do, when we say, Man is carnal or spiritual : 
just as the Latins say, i The wolf is a sad thing for 
the folds/ Moisture is a sweet thing to the 
sown corn; or when they say, That man is 
wickedness and malice itself. Thus, holy Scrip 
ture also, by an expression of intensity, calls 
man flesh as though he were carnality itself; 
because he has an excessive relish for the things 
of the flesh, and none for any thing else: just 
as it also calls him spirit, because he relishes, 
seeks, does and endures only the things of the 

She may put this question indeed, which still 
remains, c Although the whole man, and that 
which is most excellent in man, be called flesh ; 
does it follow that whatsoever is flesh must 
straightway be called ungodly 1 Whosoever hath 
not the Spirit of God, him I call ungodly : for 
the Scripture declares, that the Spirit is given for 
this very purpose, that he may justify the un 
godly. 11 Again, 1 when Christ distinguishes the 
Spirit from the flesh, by saying " That which is 
born of the flesh is flesh;" and adds, that one 
who is born of the flesh cannot see the kingdom 
of God ; it evidently follows, that whatsoever is 
flesh, the same is ungodly, is under the wrath of 

P Ut impium justified. ] Luther evidently means by justify 
here, making righteous ; and that, as to personal character. 
I do not know whence he gets his quotation ; " believeth on 
him that justifieth the ungodly." (Rom. iv. 5.), is said with, 
quite another meaning : the nearest I can find is 1 Cor. vi. 11. 
" And such were some of you ; but ye are. . . .justified in the 
name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." 

i Cum verb.] I venture to give it this turn, because it is 
clearly a new and distinct argument which he here intro 
duces : to call flesh is to call wicked ; for it is to say, 

1. that he hath not the Spirit (which alone maketh godly) ; 

2. that he is a member of the devil s kingdom. 


God, and is far from the kingdom of God. Now, SC.XLIV. 
if it be far from the kingdom and Spirit of God, - 
it must necessarily follow that it is under the 
kingdom and spirit of Satan there being no 
middle kingdom between the kingdom of God 
and the kingdom of Satan ; which are perpetually 
fighting against each other. These considerations 
prove that the most consummate virtues amongst 
the heathens the best sayings of their philoso 
phers, and the most eminent actions of tlieir 
citizens however they may be spoken well, and 
may appear honourable in the sight of the world 
are truly but flesh in the sight of God, and 
services rendered to Satan s kingdom ; that is, 
impious and sacrilegious, and in all respects 

But pray let us for a moment suppose Dia- Conse- 
tribe s assertion to stand good, that the whole J^, 8 of 
constitution of man is not flesh ; that is, wicked : sumption 
but that part of it, which we call spirit, is honest res i> ect . in g 
and sound. See what absurdity follows hence, 

not in the siiHit of human reason it is true ; but is not 

^ it i j 

with reference to the whole religion of Christ, 
and to the principal articles of the faith. For if 
the most excellent part in man be not ungodly, 
lost and damned, but only the flesh ; that is, the 
grosser and inferior affections; what sort of a 
Redeemer shall we make out Christ to be? Shall 
we represent the worth of his most precious 
blood-shedding to be so small that it only redeemed 
the vilest part in man; whilst the most excellent 
part in man is strong of itself, and hath no need 
of Christ? Henceforth then, we must preach 
Christ, not as the Redeemer of the whole man, 
but of his most worthless part that is, the flesh ; 
whilst man is himself his own redeemer in his 
better part. 

Choose which of the two you please. If the 
better part of man is sound, it does not stand in 
need of Christ as a Redeemer. If it does not 


PART IV. stand in need of Christ, it triumphs over Christ 
with a glory superior to his as curing itself, 
which is the better part, whereas Christ cures 
only the more worthless. Then again, the king 
dom of Satan also will be nothing ; as reigning over 
the viler part of man, whilst it is itself rather 
ruled by man, as to his better part. Thus it will 
be brought to pass by this dogma concerning the 
principal part of man, that man is exalted above 
both Christ and the devil ; that is, he will be 
made God of Gods, and Lord of Lords. What 
becomes then of that approvable opinion, which 
affirmed that Freewill can will nothing good? 
Here, on the contrary, she contends that this same 
Freewill is the principal part, and the sound part, 
and the honest part; that which hath no need 
even of Christ, but can do more than God him 
self and the devil can. I mention this, as in 
former instances/ my Erasmus, that you may see 
again, how dangerous a thing it is to attempt 
sacred and divine things without the Spirit of 
God, under the rash guidance of human reason. ^ 
If then Christ be the Lamb of God, who taketh 
away the sin of the world; it follows that the 
whole world is under sin, damnation and the 
devil; and the distinction between principal parts, 
and not principal parts, avails nothing. For the 
world signifies men who relish worldly things in 
all parts of their frame. 5 

sc. XLV. e if [ ie w hole man, says she, when even rege- 
" nerated by faith,* is nothing 1 else but flesh, what 

Luther J 


r See Part i. Sect xxii. Part iii. Sect, xxxii. Part. iv. Sect. 

xx. xxxii. 

s Luther s order in the last two sections is, 1. Your praise of 
the heathens is false. C Z. Man is flesh is man is wickedness. 
3. What would follow if your cavil not all were true. There 
is a good deal of subtilty in this part of his argument; and we 
are ready to say not content with knocking down his ad 
versary, he kicks him when he is down : but his objections are 
solid and unanswerable. 

1 There is an ambiguity in the expression renatus per 


becomes of the spirit which is born of the Spi- sc - XLV - 
rit? what becomes of the son of God? what " 



fidem. Faitli is the fruit and effect of regeneration strictly of the an- 
and properly so called ; that is, of that act of God by his cients 
Spirit, whereby he begets the soul anew, and so makes it abused, but 
capable of spiritual perceptions, actings and sufferings. But g od . f r 
in the more enlarged sense of regeneration, which includes !! u "r 
state as well as character (what is more properly called new C0 ntrad icts 
birth, born again) regeneration may be said to be the fruit of 
faith: " Ye are all the children of God in Christ Jesus by 
faith j" that is, manifested to be such visibly and acknow- 
ledgedly adopted into his family. The child as begotten 
differs from the child as born into the world. Regeneration, 
strictly speaking* is the begetting of the child ; speaking more 
widely, is the birth of it ; and Baptism is the sign and seal of 
this regenerate state the sign of, and the seal that we are in 
it. In its most correct view, it is the sacrament of the Resur 
rection ; of our having died and risen again with Christ into 
w^hom we have been baptized in a figure ; of which, our 
being in the number of those, for whom and with whom he 
has died, in order that they might be raised up again from the 
dead with him and for his sake at an appointed time is the 
reality. By baptism therefore, the Lord s people are sealed to 
be in the state of those who have risen from the dead ; who 
already have that which is to be had in this life of the resur 
rection from the dead, in possessing, acting and enjoying a 
risen Spirit and who have the pledge of God, which cannot 
lie, that they shall have the superabundant residue both in 
their person (a raised body) and in their state (partakers of 
the glory w r hich shall be revealed.) In whatever form the 
ordinance be administered, whether by immersion, affusion, or 
aspersion, it is in effect the same teaching sign ; the laver of 
regeneration being the Lord s blood, and its application to our 
person denoting our union with him in his death and resurrec 
tion. It is this signing, scaling ordinance, I say, to God s 
elect, and to none else : who, when they have been called by 
the Spirit (which may be before or after if one part of the 
sign must be future, why may not both :), are led and enabled 
either to wait upon the Lord in the receiving of it, or to look 
back to it as a benefit already received. Hosts of objections 
will rise up, no doubt, against this testimony. Why then are 
infants baptized ? Why is baptism administered to the non- 
elect ? I am not careful to answer these questions of the 
natural man. Infant b;iptism however, I remark, must stand 
upon its own grounds of vindication ; and, for my own part, I am 
content with God s having commanded every male Israelite to 
be circumcised on the eighth day. Administered to non- 
elect ! Why it has been the mystery of God from the begin 
ning to bring out and draw to himself his elect, amidst 


PART iv. becomes of tlie new creature ? I should like 
to be informed about these things/ So much 
for Diatribe. Whither,, whither so fast, my 
dearest Diatribe ? What are you dreaming 
about ? You desire to learn how it is that the 
spirit in man,, which is born of the Spirit of God, 
can be flesh ? O how happy and secure is this 
victory, under the flush of which you insult over 
your vanquished one, as though it were impos 
sible that I could stand my ground here ! Mean 
while, you would gladly make an ill use of the 
authority of the ancients, who talk about certain 
seeds of honesty being sown by nature in the 
minds of men. First of all, you may, for what I 
care, use or abuse the authority of the ancients, if 

a multitude of professing hypocrites, Enoch lived amongst 
such : Judas was one of the twelve. The meaning of the 
ordinance is not impaired by these mysterious arrangements ; 
and it is just so much of shame, grief and weakness to the 
spiritual man, if he do not use and enjoy the pregnant 
sign. I have mixed this reference to baptism with the subject 
of regeneration, not only because so mixed by the .Fathers 
and by the Apostles, but because I cannot doubt that the Lord 
had a reference to it in John iii. 5. (Except a man be begotten 
by the Spirit out of water; i. e. begotten by the Spirit in and 
through that water which is the sacramental emblem of my 
blood; he can have no part or lot in the kingdom of God) ; 
and because I consider it as so illustrative of the real naturei 
of regeneration : which I cannot allow to be either character 
or state only, but must regard as, in its more enlarged sense, 
comprehending both. How simple and how sweet the view 
thus opened to us of the Lord s sacraments ! Baptism, the 
sacramental introduction of the Lord s people into the resur 
rection state ; and the communion of the body and blood, the 
sacrament of their continual life therein. The phrase rena- 
tus per fidem" then, which both Erasmus and Luther adopt; 
is allowable as expressive of that state into which the eternalljl 
foreknown of God are brought, when, having already been 
regenerated in Spirit, they, by faith and calling upon God, are 
regenerated in state. In this state, they live and walk bij and 
in the Spirit. Then what has this state of theirs to do wittj 
the question of Freewill ; or rather, with all that has just beeri 
argued about man s being- flesh whatever be meant by tha^ 
word ? He that hath been begotten, or born, of the Spirit is 
Spirit, and has the Spirit dwelling and walking in him, and 
serveth God therein. 


you please ; it is your look out what you believe, sc. XLV. 
when you believe men who dictate their own 
opinions without any authority from the word of 
God: and perhaps it is not a matter of religious 
anxiety which torments you much, what any man 
believes ; since you so easily give credit to men, 
without heeding whether what they say be certain 
or uncertain in the sight of God. / also have my 
question to propose for information : when did I 
ever teach what yo